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IMEX’s Association Day marked by extended global influence

IMEX’s annual Association Day welcomed more than 270 association meeting planners to Frankfurt on Tuesday for a dedicated day of professional education and debate. Planners and buyers attended from 30 countries, with a particularly high number from Germany attending for the first time. Due to strong demand, IMEX strategic partner, the Germany Convention Bureau, has extended its original seminar programme to offer two additional seminars exclusively for German association buyers.

Association Day has become a landmark meeting for many European association meetings professionals and is increasingly viewed as a valuable opportunity to exchange opinions and best practice by representatives from other global markets too.

A change of format for the afternoon’s optional themed sessions also allowed delegates to experience new methods of interactive debate including ‘World Cafe’ and Wiki Workshops.

The day was organised in partnership with ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), with support and contributions from six other leading global associations: The European Society of Association Executives (ESAE); Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI); International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC); International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO); the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Center for Association Leadership and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).

‘World Cafe’ is a new method of structured conversation designed to support learning and allow for the constructive flow and development of ideas formulated by small groups. Yesterday’s Association Day World Cafe session was moderated by Paul E Borawski, CAE Executive Director and Chief Strategic Officer of the American Society for Quality and World Cafe facilitator.

A second panel discussion, moderated by ICCA CEO, Martin Sirk, offered planners the opportunity to learn more about corporate social responsibility (CSR). Speakers Amy Spatrisano, President and Co-Founder of the Green Meeting Industry Council; Greta Kotler, Chief Learning Officer, ASAE and the Center of Association Leadership; Pierre Sonigo, General Secretary of FERMA (European Federation of Risk Manager Associations) offered their thoughts and insight into creating a long-term strategy that’s clearly aligned with an association’s founding principles and values. Group discussions also centred on how CSR is increasingly used to motivate members and stakeholders.

Abbit Meeting Support CEO, Maarten Vanneste demonstrated how innovations, such as Wiki Workshops, are adding a dynamic new educational edge to association meetings. He also offered advice on the best and worst technology investments currently available to association meeting planners and how to achieve a good balance between the human and technological elements of large-scale meetings.

Later in the day over 26 roundtable discussions took place on subjects ranging from conference sponsorship to membership recruitment and retention; delegate ROI and committee management.

Giving his feedback, Dr Dick de Jong, International Association of Ambulatory Surgery, said "I’m finding Association Day very valuable. I’m firstly a doctor and secondly an organiser and there is a lot to know so being here helps me. I have some good ideas to share, and the first session helped me to sharpen these up."

Guilene Valette, Events Manager for Union Internationale des Avocats, commented, "It’s very interesting sharing both problems and solutions. This is great for networking – and to meet other associations when, during the year, there is really not much time."

Speaking about IMEX in general, Guy Coudert of the International Pulses Trade & Industry Confederation, France, said, "This is the place to be if you are serious about meeting people. This is my fifth year and when the show opens I’ve made appointments with providers who I’m going to brief to give me real quotations for our 2010 conference."

An extremely busy evening networking event completed Association Day. It was attended by more than 500 IMEX exhibitors, together with over 300 association buyers and hosted by IMEX at the Intercontinental Hotel.