2022 AIPC Annual Congress – Highlights

Date: 01/09/2022


The 2022 AIPC Annual Congress was held at the start of July and hosted by Hungexpo, Budapest. For the first time since 2019, we had a truly global audience of 125 senior leaders from 42 countries, representing 81 organizations, coming together for an exciting 3 day congress. This year’s team was “Shaping The Future”, reflecting both the ambition of our industry and the hosting venue, which went through a full reconversion over the last 18 months. 

The Conference started off in style, with a welcome cocktail at the Budapest Opera House, which re-opened only a few months ago, after years of renovation. As you can imagine, participants were simply thrilled to be able to reconnect in such an inspiring environment. 

On Monday, we started off with the opening address of both Greg O’Dell, President of AIPC and Gabor Ganczer, CEO of Hungexpo. Catherine DeVrye, executive woman of the year and keynote speaker, gave the inspiring opening keynote and stressed the fact that shaping the future requires an open mindset and the ability to leave your comfort zone.  

Next up were a series of sessions touching upon key challenges or providing outcomes of AIPC research: 

  • Michael Hughes (Access Intelligence) provided the results of the 2022 AIPC member research, stressing the overall optimism for the near future, both from a convention centre and organizer point of view, with the expectation that business would be at 2019 levels in 2023; 
  • Robert McClure (Paratus) shared his view on cyber security and how convention centres should prepare themselves. He also officially launched the AIPC Cyber Security Task Force and is now officially nicknamed “Cyber Robert” 
  • Adam Paulitsch (Populous) & friends explored the importance of venue and experience design, underpinned by real life examples.  
  • Steve McKenzie (Ungerboeck) and Paul Foster (OnePlanEvents) took us to the wonderful world of technology – including the Metaverse – and gave us a glimpse of how the future will/could look like, showing examples of products in the making (and in a convention center near you very soon) 
  • Matthew Klas (HLT Advisory) gave us the summary report of the yearly AIPC Benchmarking Exercise. Similar to the result of the Member Survey, he saw optimism and drive when it came to business development and capital investment. 

After all this content, it was time to switch gears and have a look at the innovation implemented by our members. The candidates for the Innovation Award each gave a 3 minute “pitch” (and it was 3 minutes sharp), after which the voting could start (but the result only to be shared the next morning). This was followed by an interview – done by Samantha Glass, member of the Future Shapers Task Force – of two participants of the AIPC talent programme.  Stephanie and Danielle both shared their personal experiences, highlighting the benefits of the programme for any upcoming talent (and did so in a very relaxed way, despite the stress for the “big finale” the next day). 

The final speaker of the day was Christian Sauska, inventor and CEO of the biggest winehouse of Hungary. He single-handedly reshaped the entire Hungarian wine industry and shares his experiences, while offering the audience the opportunity to taste the result while he spoke. Tasting wine, while listening to the speaker – a first ever at the AIPC Annual Conference. 

Peter King (CEO of MCEC and AIPC Board Member) officially closed the day with a brilliant and funny summary, after which he invited us to the summer party, organized by the Hungexpo Team, on the roof terrace of the venue. After a long (perhaps too long) day, it was time to relax and connect. 

Day two started with a tour of the completely revamped Hungexpo facilities and with the official opening by Julianne Jammers (Managing Director of the STCC and AIPC Board Member), who also announced the winners of the Innovation Awards: ICC Sydney and VIParis. And then the magic moment was there: the official presentation of the Future Shapers projects, hosted by Taubie Motlhabane (CEO of CTICC and AIPC Board Member). The two teams blew the audience away with the highly professional and dynamic pitches, resulting into a standing ovation – after which the voting could start. 

The morning was closed by two subject matter experts on security and innovation. Russ Simons (Venue Solution Group) shared some recent examples of what could happen at any venue, followed by best practices on how to be prepared. Peter Balogh (the Start-Up King of Hungary) gave an uplifting lecture on how an entrepreneurial spirit could be developed throughout the organization, resulting into better results and motivation of staff. 

After lunch, it was time for interaction in a different way. During a Lego Seriously Play session, Lego bricks were used to facilitate discussions around business development, HR, etc. Both the sculptures created and the discussions held proved to inspiring and allowed participants to get to know each other even better. 

This also provided sufficient time to the team behind the scenes to collect the scoring of the Future Shapers projects, both by a jury and by the audience present at the Annual Conference. Greg O’Dell had the pleasure of going on stage to announce the winner and … it proved to be a tie. Both teams scored differently on different elements, but overall they ended up with exactly the same score, bringing a great finale to this year’s AIPC Annual Conference. 

I want to take the opportunity to thank: 

  • Gabor Ganczer (CEO Hungexpo) and his teams for hosting us, creating unique experiences and lovely memories to take home 
  • Nadège and Sara of AIPC, who were the forces behind the scenes and made everything look flawless 
  • The members of the Board of AIPC, who actively contributed to both the preparation and the execution of the Annual Conference 
  • The AIPC Business Partners in their different capacities (sponsor and/or speaker) 
  • Vivienne Hsu, my co-host for this year’s edition. 

See you next year in Luxembourg! 

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