by Matt Alderton | May 17, 2017

Politicians who once questioned the very value of meetings and events are now engaged in conversations about how best to leverage them, according to the IMEX Group, which hosted its 15th annual IMEX Politicians Forum yesterday at the IMEX in Frankfurt trade show, taking place May 16-18 in Germany.

Attended by nearly 30 national and regional politicians and policymakers from across the globe, as well as 80 industry leaders, this year's Forum highlighted the diverse benefits of meetings and events and included lively discussions about best practices for maximizing them.

Highlights included a keynote speech by Professor Greg Clark, who emphasized the need for city governments to quantify the value of meetings in their jurisdiction and for meetings industry leaders to organize more effective advocacy for their profession; a "National Government Discussion" chaired by Nina Freysen-Pretorius, president of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA); and an open forum during which participants shared their thoughts and ideas on five themes presented during Clark's keynote: "Urbanization and Globalizing Cities," "Populism and Anti-Globalization," "Nations and Cities," "City Success and the Meetings Industry," and "Making the Marriage Between City Government and the Meetings Industry Work."

"There are many common issues and it was good to share experiences and ideas," said attendee Augustine Kungu Olal, who works in the prime minister's office in Tanzania. "I'm taking away some good advice. It was also very encouraged by my visit to the exhibition in the morning. It was eye-opening."

Although government attendees like Olal took away good advice, what the meetings industry as a whole took away from the event was a sense of optimism and progress, according to IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom.

"As an industry-leading advocacy event, the Politicians Forum has made an important contribution to achieving the growing appreciation, among politicians, of the wide ranging economic, social, and education benefits that can be gained by investing in conferences and meetings," Bloom said. "Over the last 15 years we have seen the debate move forward from demonstrating that the industry can contribute to debating how to maximize that contribution."


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