AIPC hosted a live debate with CEOs of convention centres sharing their views on the business landscape.
Convention centres across Europe and Africa shared insights, ongoing
challenges and best practice in a session hosted by the International
Association of Convention Centres (AIPC).
Taubie Motlhabane, CEO at Cape Town International Convention Centre
(CTICC) said key challenges include recruiting staff with appropriate
skills and retaining existing staff, particularly in operational roles
and day-to-day event delivery.
“If they don’t have the right skills, it impacts greatly on customer
experience and service – this battle for talent has been ongoing since
Covid,” she said. “We can’t hire quickly enough – particularly in the
area of delivering an event. The minute we hire, we lose existing
skilled staff, and those we end up hiring don’t have the right skills –
we are getting a lot of customer complaints.”
Sven Bossu, CEO of AIPC, said many venues have filled positions with
staff who are new to the business, the venue and the sales process,
creating a ‘triangle of new experience’ that makes it harder to deliver
With energy costs mounting in Europe, participants questioned whether
they could factor in additional costs to contracts that have already
“Around 95% of our contracts are already signed so I don’t think
there is much we can do,” said Julianne Jammers, executive director of
SwissTech Village, Hotel and Convention Center in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“However, we have made a change already to our terms and conditions
to factor in two things. One is inflation and the other is energy costs
and we’ve actually put those into our terms and conditions, that it will
be at the prevailing rate. We may have missed the boat for 2023 but we
are thinking proactively for the future. We also turn off all the
outside lights on the building.”
Federica Lucini, marketing manager at Palacongressi di Rimini, said
the venue has fixed tariff prices and is therefore looking at other
services where it can increase value.
Bossu asked if any of the participants had seen a demand for hybrid
events, following the return of in-person events. CTICC’s Motlhabane
said the venue had not invested in a production studio because of the
high costs involved, while Rimini’s Lucini said the venue updated the
technology that was needed at the time, rather than bringing in anything
“There was a lot of talk that hybrid is the future but I never
believed that would be the case,” she said. “We've got a digital
platform that we sell to our clients and we only pay for this when we
use it. If a convention centre wants to set up a studio, then it should
move to become a television studio and change its business model.”
Christophe Leyvraz, head of client experience at SwissTech Convention
Centre said the expenses associated with a destination such as
Switzerland, could cause "significant problems in terms of revenue",
particularly for associations looking to host events there, offering the
potential for other, more cost-effective destinations to benefit.