IMEX Policy Forum shares how to put business placemaking into action

22nd May, 2019

‘How business events can act as a catalyst in developing inspiring locations’ was the topic which brought together more than 130 participants from over 30 countries at the IMEX Policy Forum, including 35 political representatives and policy makers from national and regional government worldwide.

They met at the InterContinental Hotel Frankfurt on Tuesday 21 May, the first day of IMEX in Frankfurt 2019 to share insights about the major opportunities that the events industry offers to their countries, regions and cities.
‘The Business of Placemaking,’ the theme of the event, was explored by expert speakers and participants in discussion groups and an Open Forum.

After a visit to the IMEX exhibition in the morning, there was a private national government discussion in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) on ‘creating a place for business events in national strategic plans’ chaired by Martin Sirk of Sirk Serendipity. 

Meanwhile Professor Greg Clark CBE, the world-renowned advisor on cities explored 'Business meetings and the innovation economy' in a workshop specifically designed for local, municipal and regional policy makers and destination representatives. After case studies presented by Lyn Lewis-Smith of Business Events Sydney, Sharon Landes-Fischer of Tel Aviv Global & Tourism and Tracy Halliwell of London & Partners, the participants put forward questions for discussion on topics including addressing climate change concerns, the impact of political issues and gaining community engagement.

Open Forum 

At the Open Forum, moderated by former Sky News business news presenter Ursula Errington, Dr Julie Grail delivered the keynote address. Julie, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, and an expert on the development on Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), explained the development of a placemaking programme from defining the Place and the Place Brand to collaboration between the public sector, commercial sector and community to implement it. She highlighted the importance of collaboration and authenticity, particularly in engaging the community.

Everyone then engaged in the interactive Leadership Discussion, with a panel including Julie Grail, Greg Clark, Geoff Donaghy of the ICC Sydney, Sharon Landes-Fischer and Tracy Halliwell contributing their thoughts on questions on all aspects of placemaking posed by Ursula Errington and many contributed by the audience using online discussion technology.  This was also used for instant audience surveys and when asked “what is the biggest challenge in adapting to the demands of modern placemaking?” 50 per cent of participants said it was integrating placemaking into the wider business strategy and 22 per cent said financial issues.

The day provided revealing insights for the delegates. The Hon Korei Lemein of the National Assembly of Kenya said; “This has been a valuable day, a great opportunity to compare with other countries the challenges we face, see that they are similar and to learn new ideas on how to tackle them.”

Sergi Mari, Manager of Tourism, Commerce and Markets at Barcelona City Council who was also taking part in this event for the first time said “It’s been stimulating and I’ve enjoyed it alot. The high quality of the discussions was impressive. I’m going to take back to the council several ideas from today that we can put into action.” 

Ray Bloom, Chairman of the IMEX Group commented; “Today’s discussions focused on how to implement strategies and tactics successfully and there were many outstanding examples of how to do this. They clearly show how far the conversation and the level of understanding in the political sphere has moved forward over the years. It has progressed from establishing the importance of business events to economic development to how to make the most them. The IMEX Policy Forum has, I believe, made a substantial contribution to this.”

Organised under the auspices of the Joint Meetings Industry Council, the IMEX Policy Forum’s advocacy partners are Association Internationale des Palais de Congres (AIPC), European Cities Marketing (ECM), ICCA, The Iceberg and UNWTO. The Forum is sponsored by Turisme de Barcelona, Business Events Sydney, German Convention Bureau, Geneva Convention Bureau, Messe Frankfurt and the Meetings Mean Business Coalition.  

For more details about the IMEX Policy Forum, please visit the website.


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