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Politicians, football, and meetings

 I’ve recently been speaking at two very different events: at the Latin American version of the Politicians’ Forum during Expoventos Argentina, to which all the ministers of tourism from across the region were invited along with a big crowd of local politicians and mayors; and at a great meetings venue based within COMMEBOL (Latin American football confederation) offices in Paraguay, where local industry and political figures came to discuss the impact of the “beautiful game”.  It is apparent at both events that nothing excites politicians more than football, and with the World Cup coming to Brazil next year this has never been so obvious in our part of the world. 

I’m convinced that we in the international meetings industry can do so much more to raise our profile and increase the support and understanding we receive from politicians, and we need to take advantage of the sex appeal enjoyed by our football cousins!  How can we do this? We of course don’t have the excitement of crazily dressed fans, or the drama penalty shoot-outs! But we do have many of the same economic development and PR arguments, and by explaining that we belong in the same group of strategically important types of business, by drawing clever comparisons and metaphors, we can start to get the message across about why countries should be just as proud to be hosting scientific, healthcare and business events, and how they can bring worldwide prestige and recognition.  We need to celebrate successful ambassadors – maybe your top doctors and scientists who win bids should be described in press releases as the Pele or Messi of genetics or gynaecology!

Another very important meeting that is coming up in Latin America is our own Chapter meeting, taking place in my home city of Montevideo in Uruguay, and at which the ICCA Management and Finance Committee will be contributing to the education programme, since we decided to co-locate the MFC event here.  This will be the first MFC meeting in Latin America, and is a continuation of our policy of moving this event around the world to help bring the Board members closer to as many members as possible.  I’m sure that as part of our input into the education programme we’ll be sharing our own views on how members can help to make our industry more popular, and we’ll be taking inspiration from the success of sporting events and drawing parallels from their marketing concepts.

As the Northern Hemisphere summer starts to draw to a close, and in the South we look forward to Springtime, we’re also heading towards the next cut-off date for the ICCA Congress.  More than 600 colleagues have already signed up, a tremendous vote of confidence, so I urge everyone, no matter what the time of year where you come from, to sign up for what is now certain to be one of our biggest and most exciting events ever!

With best personal wishes

Arnaldo Nardone

President