IRELAND – Dublin opens its doors to international tourism leaders
Delegates from 30 countries and six continents attended in Dublin the annual meeting of IAPCO (International Association of Professional Congress Organisers). This elite group collectively manages conferences for 1.2 million delegates annually and contributes 3.71 billion euros to business tourism worldwide.
The conference took place from 15th to 17th February and this was the first time in over 30 years that the event has been held in Ireland. Starting with a St. Valentine’s Day themed welcome reception at the Westbury Hotel last night, the conference began with an opening address from Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, T.D., before launching into three days of discussion and debate, with interaction and audience participation at the centre of the event design.
“We felt it was vital to bring this pro-active communication between the delegates and the scientific contributors, right into the heart of the programme”, said Noel Mitchell, Managing Director of Keynote PCO. “It’s important that we lead the way when designing and building a great event, making the best use of the technologies to do so. Although they’ve been available for some time, technologies are rarely used to their greatest potential.”
Dublin’s bid to host the elite group was a collaborative effort from three of Ireland’s top conference companies (Conference Partners, Keynote PCO and MCI Group) along with funding support from Failte Ireland. It is part of a wider strategy of connecting the tourism community with the business sector as a whole to attract major conferences to Ireland and enhance both the knowledge base and economic output of both.
“This collaboration is what sets Ireland apart” said Nicola McGrane, Managing Director of Conference Partners “and is something we hope to demonstrate to our international colleagues. Having Maurice Pratt, the Chairman of Uniphar, as a moderator throughout the conference allows us to keep that in mind; we help others to achieve their goals, and to do that we must understand them.”
The theme of the conference was ‘Riding the winds of change – new strategies for Professional Conference Organisers’ and it focused on the changing role of the professional conference organiser from a primarily logistics partner to a long-term strategic one.
“If there was one thing we’d like to impress on people both at home and abroad through this conference it would be this” said Jean Evans, European Director – Association Relations, MCI Group ‘business tourism is a key pillar of our economy, to keep it that way we have to constantly evolve and embrace new technologies and methods; if we don’t, then we’ll be blown away.”