New era. Leading members from the 14 national associations which make up the European Federation of the Associations of PCOs gather in the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague, this weekend for a General Assembly which will set out a new programme of professional, educational and economic activities for the organisation.
“We are looking forward to meeting some of the 1,450 PCO professionals active in the meetings industry, which make up the membership of our 14 national associations,” said Federation President Luisa Ahrens Teixeira. “And we have invited leading PCOs from some of the European countries who, at present, do not have their own PCO associations, to come and learn about the benefits of belonging to our Europe-wide network,” she added.
“I’m convinced that EFAPCO can prove invaluable to all professionals working in the field of congress organisation, by constantly driving up the service standards we offer to clients and their delegates, and by promoting our needs and aspirations to EU governments and the European Commission. With this in mind we need to prove we are united and speak in one voice.”
The focus of this year’s General Assembly will be a series of intensive workshop sessions aimed at creating a dedicated European Observatory. The proposed structure will rest on three essential pillars: Economy, National Organisations and Education.
The Observatory’s architect Sam van de Kerckhof, from the Belgian association BAPCO, said: “The three pillars relate to EFAPCO’s main objectives and fit easily within the remits of different directorates within the European Commission. We need to be in a position to react promptly as the “voice of the European meetings industry” on the various challenges and developments our industry has to live with, forecasting risks and developing opportunities. Employment, innovation, creativity and competitiveness should all be part of our thought processes.
“As a European federation we should open our minds and celebrate the tremendous variety Europe offers us - and meetings planners worldwide - and we need to encourage all countries, both within the EU and in other parts of Europe to unite their professionals in embracing quality and ethical standards. The Observatory should collect statistics from all of our member national associations, enabling us to undertake macro-economic, political and financial analyses,” he added.
“We also need to evaluate how well we are preparing the next generation for our constantly-evolving profession. The education of future meetings professionals builds bridges towards employment. The Observatory should report on all initiatives being undertaken in terms of professional education.”
Van de Kerckhof added: “I hope we can gather input from all member associations to generate annual or bi-annual reports which will also encourage PCOs in non-member countries to form their own associations, get involved and gain maximum benefit from joining our network.”
It promises to be a challenging debut Assembly for Luisa Ahrens Teixeira. As managing director of the award-winning Portuguese PCO organization, Mundiconvenius, and a leading member of APECATE she was recently elected as the Federation’s first woman President. “Extending EFAPCO’s reach strengthens our voice, not just within the EU but also with organisations like JMIC and with sister associations in other parts of the world,” she said.
The Assembly is taking place at the Holiday Inn Prague Congress Centre Hotel on Saturday January 19.