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60th ICCA Annual Congress showcases a brighter, bolder future for the association meetings industry

Under the theme “Forward to our Future”, the Congress demonstrated what delegates can anticipate from business meetings of tomorrow.

During the first face-to-face meeting for the global association meetings industry since the start of the pandemic, more than 1200 delegates from 83 countries came together across five cities and a cutting-edge virtual platform. The 60th Annual Congress by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), held 24-27 October 2021, delivered a unique and expansive programme that set a new standard for business events. The entire event brought more than 100 hours of live content and 120 world-class speakers to the stage. 

Industry’s future on display during trailblazing event 
Under the theme 'Forward to our Future', the Congress demonstrated what delegates can anticipate from business meetings of tomorrow. The hub-and-spoke model featured live events in the Congress host city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia and Congress Hubs in Abu Dhabi, UAE; Paris, France; Nagaski, Japan; Seoul, Republic of South Korea; and Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Delegates benefited from a global educational programme and sessions tailored to the regional business events industry of their Congress Hub. Those who joined on the virtual platform enjoyed a seamless experience with dynamic learning and networking opportunities. The host destination Cartagena de Indias staged a memorable congress and the respective Congress Hub hosts showcased creative events. 

We are very pleased with the success of the 60th ICCA Congress, which was a showcase of building global communities. More than 300 of the world’s leading international associations have now experienced the new possibilities in event organisation,” said Senthil Gopinath, ICCA CEO.

Flexible registration allowed people to change their registration type up until two weeks before the Congress without incurring an additional fee. As a result, the ICCA Congress attracted a record number of delegates during a time when many are still dealing with travel uncertainty. 

With the re-opening of business in certain parts of the world, it's evident that our industry is getting back faster than expected in organising face-to-face events. While the tools and strategies will continue to evolve, we do anticipate associations to include best practices and technological advances in future meetings. As such, our aim for this Congress was to blaze a trail for our industry’s way forward, together, into our revised future,” Gopinath said.  

I take this opportunity to thank ProColombia, the local host committee and the entire meeting industry stakeholders for their extensive support and commitment. The education committee of the congress for their futuristic input, Maritz global events for designing the programme and Kenes group for creating a cutting edge technology platform.”

Delegates take a deep dive into collaborative transformation 
A revolutionary component of the educational programme honed in on current meta trends shaping the business events industry and the world. Meta trends are drivers of change that influence trends and megatrends. The panel sessions brought together experts from diverse fields and leading companies such as McKinsey, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., bestselling author Josh Linkner, Chilean activist Julia Martinez, and many more. The speakers provided global and regional perspectives into these eight meta trends: innovation, agility and collaboration; sustainability; organisational culture; the future of work; consumer choice and event experience; future generation; diversity and inclusion; community building; and the impact of technology. 

The crucial and eye-opening conversations revealed that our industry is at the forefront of the critical issues that are shaping our future. Not only are we aware of the meta trends, we are leading the charge and catalysing real change. For example, our industry is deepening our commitment to becoming a more inclusive and sustainable industry,” stated Gopinath.

The outlook of ICCA’s global community through the current challenges has been one of optimism, collaboration, flexibility, and openness to change. The present situation created an opportunity for the meetings industry to reassess our core values and mission. The time is now for us to build it back, better, and the 2021 ICCA Congress has proven that we are doing just that.”  

Tatiana Rokou

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (, and Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.