Congresses are More Than Just Congresses

22nd Apr, 2022

Congresses have never existed in isolation. A convention is a man-made invention and therefore subject to its strengths and weaknesses. The curious thing in this path trodden by the media world and the MICE industry is that the world’s first Convention and Visitors Bureau was founded in 1896 by a journalist in Detroit − at the time one of the ugliest cities in the world. These specialised agencies promoted the importance of conventions year after year and turned them into a special industry: ours, the Meetings Industry.

Conferences were used for various purposes. And there are examples of destinations that have used them purely as propaganda for their city or country. Conventions are also strongly determined by history and culture. We can safely say that the entire convention world has been shaken up by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We see a major reversal in the importance that congresses can have for society. Whereas conferences used to be an important source of prestige and income, we are now seeing a shift towards more intrinsic values. Of course, values such as knowledge transfer and innovation remain at the top of the list. A congress is valuable not only for the association and the organiser, but also for the destination and the participant. The latter group has not always received the critical attention necessary for future-oriented thinking. Conference Monkey has done some interesting research for this group (academic conferences) and published “8 Benefits of Attending Congresses”. Interesting to learn, for example, how one of the benefits − “Visit a new place and have fun” − is written.

At present, we may assume that there are about 10 types of congresses, all of them with their different history and purposes, thus leaving a separate legacy. In this first issue of HQ in 2022, you can learn more about the role and importance of congresses in this day and age. But most of all about what the future will bring.

By Marcel A.M. Vissers, HQ's editor-in-chief

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Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.