Changing gears in a changing world

Date: 04/04/2024


AIPC – the global association of convention centers – has been around since 1958. In that entire period, AIPC has adapted its value proposal to the changing business environment to stay relevant for its global community. Like the industry it belongs to, change has considerably accelerated over the last 3 years, with regional education, sustainability, fostering talent, and cyber security as key focus areas.

AIPC is a small association, with just over 200 members in 60 countries worldwide, and with a very specific focus: encouraging, supporting, and recognizing excellence when it comes to the management of convention centers. Our membership consists solely of stand-alone facilities which host conferences and exhibitions, making us very unique.

This focus allows for a number of advantages: while the membership is very diverse in terms of design, ownership and size, they all face a number of common challenges in terms of professional training, operations or business development and AIPC has been successful at developing tailor-made training programmes and networking opportunities addressing those challenges. Over the last 3 years, we have seen a number of new challenges emerging and AIPC adapted its products and services accordingly.

The first one is attracting and fostering talent. Our member survey indicates that for the majority of our members it remains very challenging to attract and retain talent, especially when it comes to middle-management. That is why we created the Future Shapers programme, which is a combination of lectures by global thought leaders, a platform for upcoming leaders to connect and joint project management, resulting in business and product concept which have the potential of (re-)shaping the future of convention centers. The participants not only go through this full executive management programme, they also need to present their project during the annual conference, providing them with unparalleled visibility.

The second one is the regionalization of our educational programme. Until two years ago, AIPC offered a set of global training courses, mainly taking place in Europe, including a 5-day bootcamp for middle-management called the AIPC Academy. While very successful, we did not reach certain parts of our membership, mainly due to financial thresholds. After a successful test in North America, we are now rolling out local versions of the Academy in North-America, Africa and China, increasing our educational footprint and member engagement.

Thirdly, we support our members in addressing one of the biggest challenges we face and not only in the event industry: sustainability. AIPC was one of the “founding members” of the Net Zero Carbon Event initiative, which is now lifted to the level of the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC). In close collaboration with all the parties involved, we define sets of “hands on” best practices, which can be applied almost immediately by convention centers. In parallel, we define reporting standards which will be necessary to demonstrate progress in a tangible way.

And finally, we provide education and reporting on cyber security. While the rise of digitalization has allowed convention centers to offer unique experiences to their clients, to increase efficiency and to obtain in-depth knowledge via datamining, it also has them made possible targets for cyber-criminals. That is why we created an AIPC Cyber Task Force, in partnership with the cyber security company PARATUS. Our database, which receives input from members worldwide on a daily basis, allows to monitor cyber-attacks, inform our members on trends and modus operandi via monthly reports and organize regular webinars during which the CTOs of convention centers share information in a confidential way.

The latter highlights one aspect not touched upon, but which is crucial to AIPC: because we are an association of convention centers only, members are open to sharing knowledge and best practices and discussing the things which really matter to them, using AIPC as the preferred platform. While the above demonstrated our ability to adapt to changing needs, it is this what makes AIPC unique: to be a “safe place” to meet with colleagues from across the globe.

Sven Bossu, CEO AIPC

View the article page in pdf here.

Scroll to Top