The Meetings Industry Rises Again at IAPCO 2022

20th Feb, 2022

The IAPCO 2022 Annual Meeting and General Assembly took place for the first time in a hybrid format from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 February. The event gathered 126 IAPCO members and partners in Rome (Italy), as well as 46 attendees online from 34 countries.  It was the first time IAPCO members met in person since the Annual Meeting in Vancouver, 2 years ago. The most qualified professional congress organisers (PCOs) discussed the recovery of the global business and professional events market and the most important drivers that will shape the future of the industry.

Keynotes and panel discussions reflected on the fact that ‘There is no future without History’ – a topic that strongly resonates with many business events industry organisations around the globe all of which had to drastically adapt their activities in the past 2 years.

‘Human connections’ were central to all the messages conveyed by the exceptional panel of keynote speakers and expert panellists lined up: Attendees discussed the future of leadership with Paolo Gallo, Futurist, who triggered the audience to reflect on the qualities of a good leader. They heard Adolfo Fernandez, from Google, translate very digital data – Google searches – into the very human needs behind them. Juli Ferre Nadal shared the learnings of the sports industry journey into the pandemic: the human need for live experiences.  Participants spoke with Serena Porcari, the Managing Director of the Dynamo Foundation, a camp for sick and disabled children and their families. She shared with them the inspiring story of the camp and the empowerment of evolving in an adapted environment.  We met Neha Shukla, a Gen Z innovator and changemaker who shared insights of how next Gen sees the future, and what they want to change – bringing the conversation back to sustainability and inclusion. On the last day, the audience was confronted to their own - very human - contradictions by Mark Stevenson, reluctant futurist. Finally, all had the honour to speak with Bebe Vio, a Paralympic Gold Medalist, who shared her journey of resilience and adaptation.

"Our members are eager to get back together, and emotions ran high in our community these past days as we met for our Annual Meeting in Rome. Our industry has undergone major changes in the last 2 years and today is a good time to learn from this journey and to address our future. Finding the right balance between the unmatchable value of in-person meetings and concerns of sustainability, legacy and inclusion remain key priorities for IAPCO. We received exceptional insights and inspiration from the keynotes and engaged the community present in enlightening discussions that will help us reflect and craft innovative solutions for the future of the meetings industry," said Ori Lahav, IAPCO President.

Martin Boyle, IAPCO CEO reported that the association had retained 99% of their members in 2021, a benchmark for excellence. "Once again, this figure demonstrates the value of IAPCO membership to our community. We have tried our best to actively respond to the needs of our members, and the numbers are here to tell we have succeeded in doing so. Solidarity and collaboration are critical in challenging times. This is why, beyond our members, I would like to also acknowledge the wider and growing community we formed with our partners: destinations, convention centres, suppliers and industry associations... We are all facing similar challenges that we can only resolve by working together. The synergies we create today are the key to a successful future."

The design of the programme and management of the event was the work of a group of 3 Italian PCOs, members of IAPCO: AIM Group International, ega Worldwide, and OIC Group, instrumental in the success and safe delivery of the event.

IAPCO Council

IAPCO Council elections were held during the General Assembly. Sarah Markey-Hamm, ICMS Pty Ltd (Australia) was voted as the new President-Elect of IAPCO; she will start her term as President in February 2023. The Council also welcomed one newly elected member – Jason Yeh from GIS Group (Taiwan), and four re-elected officers – Keith Burton, African Agenda (South-Africa), Barbara Calderwood, MCI UK (United Kingdom), Monica Freire, AIM Group International (Portugal), Alejandro Ramirez Tabche BTC (Mexico).

IAPCO Council 2022-2023

President:                                Ori Lahav, Kenes Group, Israel

Sarah Markey-Hamm, ICMS Pty Ltd, Australia


Treasurer:                                  Keith Burton, African Agenda, South Africa

Council Officers:

Barbara Calderwood, MCI, UK
Alessandra Damant, Arinex, Australia (Next Generation, Co-opted)
Monice Freire, AIM Group International, Portugal
Sissi Lygnou, AFEA S.A Travel & Congress Services, Greece
Mathias Posch, International Conference Services, Singapore ( Chair of the Training Academy, Co-opted)
Alejandro Ramirez Tabche, Business Travel Consulting, Mexico
Nicolette van Erven, Congress by design bv, Netherlands

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