There are scores of groups representing different sectors, interests and constituencies within the meetings industry. During the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings (GIBTM) exhibition in Abu Dhabi last month, three of them — Site, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) — engaged in a friendly debate about which one rules the roost during a session titled, "Which Association Has the X Factor?"
According to ICCA, which reported on the session last week, advocates from each association went head-to-head in a fully loaded seminar room where each of them explained the different benefits they offer their members.
Said David Sand, vice president of the Site International Board, "Site is a collection of key industry players who tend to be CEOs, managing directors, directors or vice presidents whose goal is to develop, through high-quality interactions, member-to-member business results in the motivational meetings and events space. The association also attracts the younger future leaders who seek to develop their own business networks and skills development with the high-quality educational content and certification programs that Site offers."
Continued Joyce Dogniez, director of development for MPI, "In an effort to support the development of the meetings industry in the [Gulf] region, MPI offers training and education through our office in Doha, Qatar, where nearly 250 professionals have already gone through MPI's training programs in the last two years. We plan to extend our training and education offerings to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the near future."
Added Nina Freysen-Pretorius, member of the ICCA Board of Directors, "ICCA membership is an absolute necessity for those industry partners interested in attracting international association business to their countries. ICCA has an online database of international associations and the meetings that they host that is accessible to all members. This ICCA tool is most useful to keep abreast of information and statistics of an international association. It is, however, important that potential members interested in joining are able to use this tool and are in a position to do the necessary research. Attending the annual ICCA Congress and General Assembly is most beneficial to share leads, information about hosting of specific association conferences and discussing current challenges and trends within our business."
So, who won? According to the session's moderator, Ali Alsaloom — a.k.a. Ask Ali — it was a draw. "I pray that this session will be inviting us all to cooperate even more toward developing this region and bring more awareness toward this industry," he said. "Many people don't know this, but 'business tourism' can easily contribute positively to our political situation in the whole [Gulf] region. More meetings, hopefully, can drive more negotiations and inter-cultural dialogues. This will only lead to a better understanding and lots of appreciation between us all."