How Association Event Co-Locating Can Help Multiple Industries
While EIBTM was underway at the Gran Fira conference center in Barcelona in late-November, another convention was taking place in the same venue that provided an interesting counterpoint. In fact, ICCA CEO Martin Sirk told IMR James Latham from the trade show floor, attendees from EIBTM wandered into the Smart City Expo World Congress by accident and saw some new and innovative design ideas. Likewise, when Smart City attendees wandered into EIBTM, they also gleaned ideas that could improve their own businesses.
“We held our reception yesterday, and a couple of guys had sneaked in here from that conference because they were interested in finding out what was going on here,” Sirk said. The various professionals talked at length about the shift in strategy from tourism to intellectual capital and economic development. “They were talking about the problem they’re facing on the other side, which is that you’ve typically got local government officials who are trying to make their cities smarter by dealing with big tech companies...so you’ve got geeks talking to the bureaucrats.” They needed energy from EIBTM to unlock the potential that was not being “fully realized,” he added, noting that the grass always seems greener from the other side of the fence.
This, he continued, is a trend that ICCA is seeing in major associations from around the world. “They’re constantly thinking [about] how they can bridge the gap,” he said. For example, a planner in the medical field may struggle to get experts from the physics, IT and engineering community involved in an event. “They are providing the tools and connectivity to allow doctors to deal with modern medicine,” Sirk said. “Often, the solutions are out there, but they’re sitting in a tech conference.”
The opportunities are enormous, he continued, once people think about how they can make those connections, and Sirk believes that once people unlock those connections, there’s no going back. “When you’ve attended a meeting where you’ve actually got people from other disciples who are actually talking about things that are relevant to you, it changes the way you think about your problems.” ICCA has seen examples of associations co-locating, he added, noting that “six or seven” came together in Saskatoon, Canada, and were able to build the same sponsorship deal so that all the people they were chasing could deal with all of the different communities at once.