INDIA, CHINA – In a time when many are extolling the merits of retraining, associations such as the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) are also welcoming new members into their fray.
These members include Mr Girish Kwatra, founder, CEO of Meetings and More in Haryana, India. He runs a PCO and DMC business, organising conferences, incentives, exhibitions and events. His company has been in the business for more than 35 years and it has handled national and international meetings ranging from small board meetings to large events of 15,000 delegates.
It is one of the few PCOs in India with ISO accreditation. It recently joined IAPCO with several objectives: to exchange best practices with counterparts all over the world; educate team members; engage in business exchange with counterparts; create the awareness about IAPCO in India; and increase its membership.
These past months, Mr Kwatra said meetings have either been deferred or cancelled, and he foresees that the meeting industry will take many months to recover, not only because of the fear of travel, but because recession will also restrict travellers from attending meetings.
He said: “We don’t think any goals for this year will be achieved. However, as other PCOs are doing, we will be also doing virtual meetings and working on the association management model...we may see some light probably in second quarter of the next year.”
So far, the company has helped to convert a wedding venue into a conference venue for 10,000 delegates at “much lesser cost”. It has also helped to negotiate with vendors to offset the lower takings from sponsorships.
In India, the conference organiser has to seek permission from the government for international delegates to get an Indian conference visa. Once this is granted, the next step would be for international delegates to get a visa. Mr Kwatra adds that his company plays a role in helping to connect delegates with the Indian embassy in the respective countries for visas and “ensure best attendance from all parts of world”.
Another new IAPCO member, Ms Lisa Xu, MD of East Star Event Management, Shanghai, said: “Over the past seven years, we have insisted that ‘People come First’ and we assist clients to achieve their goals by offering specialised and customised services. As a subsidiary company of Shanghai DLG Exhibition & Event (Group), we are also dedicated to creating Shanghai as an international MICE centre.”
“The principle reason for joining IAPCO is our appreciation of it as an organisation representing professionalism and standards in international conference industry. Since IAPCO holds considerable authority over lots of issues within the industry, our management team has paid close and continuous attention to it from 2008 till now. Meanwhile, we also interact with the IAPCO actively, such as participating in various training and education opportunities.”
Over the past few years, IAPCO has provided the company with more opportunities to learn from international peers and enhanced other international associations’ recognition of East Star. East Star is hoping to gain more exposure to global markets, build more international collaboration channels, and to pursue new operation models.
Apart from joining IAPCO, East Star has also joined INCON, a global partnership of conference and association management companies, whose collaboration results in the delivery of client events. Ms Xu is also the vice chairman of SITE CHINA in 2020.
For events that have not been cancelled or postponed, East Star has moved many conferences online. Ms Xu said: “We proactively analyse the demands and difficulties of online conferences and provide a package of services including online conference planning and organising, IT support and liaising with speakers…for conferences which must be held offline, under request of COVID-19 control, we will adjust floor plans, seat maps and personnel movement maps, and provide epidemic control materials to balance conference effectiveness and health protection.”