All parties at the recent IAPCO Seminar at EIBTM, chaired by Philippe Fournier, IAPCO President, were in agreement. Anne Rødven, VisitOSLO [Convention Bureau], Ben Hainsworth, European Society of Cardiology [Association] and Michel Neijmann, K2 Conferences [PCO] spoke to the packed hall of over 120 exhibition visitors.
More obvious changes in the bidding process were the move from glossy bid books to on-line submissions and the demand for ever increasing subsidies, subventions, donations to assist the event’s bottom line. But perhaps less obvious was a fundamental principal of selection. “The mind-set has changed” said Ben “selections are made on the basis of looking at the Association’s point of view, rather than just a destination. The selection is political and strategic and objective assessments are made”.
Anne stressed the financial changes. “20 years ago, there was a move to fight against the competition from cities providing subventions. Now it is a fact of life, some associations will only go to a city where there are financial incentives. And” she added “VAT, its %, can be the deciding factor”.
CSR was not felt to influence the process. “CSR is a standard now”, commented Michel, “Bids are expected to include information in terms of both legacy and carbon footprint”. The consensus was that the selection process was not impacted by such considerations.
And the current buzz, social media? Today, when, in many meeting formats, the decisions are made by the older generation, use of social media was limited; however, this is an inevitable change as the decision-making players alter. But, here and now, the reputation, or indeed perception, of a destination can be changed in minutes by active traffic on social media which might well affect the selection decision. It can of course benefit the actual event, and therefore good social media skills identified within the bid can enhance the overall submission.
Core PCOs can help considerably in the process, and are often influential in the selection. They push the destinations and the convention bureaux to provide the best deals and the best solutions for their association clients. “Core PCOs have become an integral part of the selection chain”, summed up Philippe, “Yes, Bidding has changed. Nothing is taken lightly, associations have to be seen to be objective and they need to make the right decision. Core PCOs, yes IAPCO Core PCOs, help that process”.