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AIPC Academy well established with second session in Brussels

This February saw the successful completion of the second International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC) Academy program, which, like its predecessor in 2007, was fully subscribed. Held at the Dolce la Hulpe near Brussels, it took place over a 5 day period with 25 students and 8 faculty and guest speakers in attendance.

The Academy is a comprehensive education program designed to provide a specialized professional development experience for convention centre managers and staff. Its purpose is to provide broad, industry-focused training which will help existing convention centre staff prepare themselves for broader responsibilities while at the same time creating an opportunity for those new to the industry to get a solid orientation.

"This program goes to the heart of our mission for AIPC of encouraging and recognizing excellence in convention centre management " said AIPC President Edgar Hirt. "In order to create and maintain this kind of excellence, our members need well trained staff with a broad perspective on the industry, and this is exactly what the Academy program delivers. At the same time, the challenges with a shrinking labour force in many areas will make this type of program even more important in the future, and we intend to make sure it is there to serve AIPC member needs."

Faculty members were drawn from around the world, including centres and industry-related businesses in South Africa, Italy, Canada, the US and the UK. The units they delivered ranged from facility operations and financial management to human resources, customer relations, sales and marketing, community relations and security. In all cases, these topics were delivered in a convention centre context using relevant examples from actual centre operations.

As in last year’s Academy, a great deal of emphasis was placed on group exercises which utilized the experiences of all participants and helped encourage a group approach to problem solving. Student assessments showed a more than 80% approval rating for the program along with an array of good suggestions for refining and improving program content and format even further in the future.

The third Academy will again be held in Brussels early in 2009, and AIPC member centres wishing to send staff are encouraged to apply early for a place. In order to ensure a high quality of educational experience, enrolment will again be limited to 25 students and experience has shown that these openings are rapidly taken up.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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