March 2024 Newsletter

The New (ab)Normal – Business continuity challenges 

One of the highlights of the recent Dubai Association Conference was a presentation by Danny Tinga, Senior Partner in Deloitte’s Resilience, Crisis & Reputation division, who sent shivers down delegates’ spines when articulating the many ways in which organisations can suffer existential crises, then provided some relief by outlining the simple (but tough to consistently implement) methodologies for safeguarding “business continuity”, a disciple quite distinctive from risk management (particularly the box-ticking exercise employed by so many association boards).  

We overestimate the potential likelihood of headline-grabbing events such as ransomeware attacks or geo-political events, and ignore “boring” issues such as routine IT failures (how many staff really understand your legacy software?), or illness to key personnel (especially when two top people go missing simultaneously).  Most critically, we don’t pay enough attention to “time” – which failures to our processes or services can damage members’ interests if down for 24 hours (or even a few hours, especially when deadlines are involved!), which only create permanent damage if offline for a week, and which won’t really impact our members lives if not available for even longer.

In a world of ever greater uncertainty and complexity, safeguarding business continuity is going to be the biggest challenge facing every association.

Martin Sirk
Global Association Hubs International Advisor

Five Meeting Design hacks that associations aren’t (yet!) planning to adopt in 2024

Our latest article in media partner Boardroom magazine showcases some easy-to-implement but rarely-adopted approaches to meeting design that can help any association radically improve the impact and outcomes from their major events:
*Active anti-passivity
*Sounds of silence
*Excessive over-moderation
*Magnificent messiness
*Deep-diving with destinations

The last of these is obviously a big favourite with Global Association Hubs and our partner cities, Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington DC!  In our view, meetings are not just a goal in themselves, but an opportunity to open deep and long-term partnerships between associations and cities to drive positive societal change.

Renewed partnerships in 2024 with ESAE & ASSOCIATIONWORLD

We are delighted to announce the renewal  of our partnership with ESAE, the European Society of Association Executives, including repeated sponsorship of the ESAE Award for Event Transformation, and a series of online webinars which will stimulate high-level conversations about the most critical topics amongst European-based association leaders.  The first edition takes place later this week on Wednesday 13 March, on “Quantifying outcomes for Associations”.   ESAE members can sign up here, and there is also one-time access for potential future ESAE members.

Global Association Hubs has also renewed its agreement with ASSOCIATIONWORLD, the worldwide community of association executives and volunteer leaders, organisers of the BIAF, GIAF, WIAF series of educational forums.  Another series of online events will be organised between April and November, the first taking place on Tuesday 23 April, which will focus on Partnerships, exploring the range of opportunities & potential partners (many routinely ignored!), the surprising breadth of assets that can be employed in such relationships, and how to overcome the barriers that prevent partnerships from working effectively.

Will you be at IMEX this year?  Make a date to see us!

Global Association Hubs partner cities will all be exhibiting at IMEX in Frankfurt this year from 14 to 16 May.  Look us up on the IMEX website as soon as the appointments diary goes live!

Brussels  ( Convention & Association Bureau) 
Dubai  (Dubai Business Events/Dubai Association Centre) 
Singapore  (Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau) 
Washington DC  (Destination DC Convention Bureau) 

Registrations are open for this year’s IMEX Association Focus, (including hosted buyer status – see website for details) taking place on the afternoon of Monday 13 May.  This is one of the highlight events of the year for international association leaders and directors of association meeting divisions.  ASAE, ESAE and ICCA will be contributing to the content, and the meetings stream will be moderated and co-curated by Martin Sirk, International Advisor to Global Association Hubs.

To meet up with Martin, who will be speaking, moderating and wandering the aisles throughout the show, please email

Brussels must-attend: European Association Summit

This year will see a new look for the annual EAS, one of the highlights of the Brussels association calendar, taking place on Wednesday 22 May.  Design and curation has been taken over by ESAE, whose President, Mike Morrissey from European Cancer Organisation explains the new philosophy: “As Association executives ourselves, we are sensitive to the needs and topics that matter the most to our peers. We want to create a Summit designed by Association professionals, for Association professionals, aimed at advancing knowledge-sharing for all. We hope to build on the success of past editions by being inclusive and collaborative across our community.”

Registrations have now been extended to non-member association executives as well as ESAE members: sign up now!  The education programme, still being finalised, can be downloaded from the same website. 

Spectacular Cherry Blossom Season in Washington DC

A symbol of international collaboration dating back to a gift from Japan in 1912, the city enjoys a spectacular explosion of bright pink from over 3,000 flowering cherry trees, many centrally located on the National Mall and around other famous monuments.  The Festival runs from 20 March to 14 April, and is a bonus value-addition for international associations that bring their events to DC in the Springtime!

Beneficiaries of “peak pink” this year will include the World Vaccine Congress and International Association of Privacy Professionals Global Privacy Summit both taking place 1-4 April.

Dubai Association Conference 2024

The fifth edition of this regional event has just taken place.  Under the heading “Value Amplified”, association executives based in Dubai Association Centre and visiting international association leaders from Europe and North America shared insights and experiences, whilst following an innovative, interactive education programme on the theme “Value Amplified”, curated by meeting design author & practitioner, Mike Van der Vijver.  Delegates were challenged to register the value they were gaining from the each aspect of the programme in real time (a unique live experiment!), whilst also being transparent about the carbon cost of attending the event.  Conclusion: well over two-and-a-half times as much aggregate (business & intellectual) value was generated compared to negative travel impacts.

Global Association Hubs International Advisor Martin Sirk was one of the event co-moderators alongside Genevieve Leclerc from #Meet4Impact, co-presenting with association innovators such as Sharon Ashton from EURORDIS (Rare Diseases Association), Tina Marolt from Hydrogen Europe, Tom Reiser from ISHT and Mohamed Mezghani from UITP.  One of the highlights was a presentation on AI for Associations by Veemal Gungadin, CEO of Gevmo.

Dubai Association Centre launches “Going Global” Roadshow 

DAC’s roadshow will take place in Washington DC on 7 May, Montreal on 9 May, Brussels on 11 June and London on 13 June, with dates to be announced later in the year for Singapore and Hong Kong editions.  International associations can now register to participate in peer-to-peer exchanges and topic-expert input on a range of key strategic issues and challenges, designed and curated by Tracy Bury from Operandi Consulting, and will have opportunities to meet the DAC team to learn more about association developments in the Gulf region and beyond. 

Coming to Singapore: The Meetings Show Asia Pacific!

The inaugural Meetings Show Asia Pacific 2024 will take place in at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore from 17-18 April 2024, a testament to Singapore’s MICE and association capabilities, and its attraction as the region’s leading business, logistics, communication and intellectual-capital hub. Organised by the Northstar Travel Group, and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, the show promises a diverse exhibitor lineup, featuring a wide range of destinations, venues, hotels, technology providers, and key suppliers from across Asia Pacific’s thriving MICE industry.  

Women Who Advance Associations

The 2024 edition of this annual campaign to showcase some of the exceptional female talent working in the association world has just kicked off on 8 March, International Women’s Day.  We’re delighted to be supporting WWAA for the fifth year.  An amazing array of candidates working in all regions of the world and for all types of association are being profiled on the WWAA website.  Look out for announcements on social media over the next few weeks.

The Iceberg
We are proud supporters of The Iceberg, showcase for the societal and economic impact of international meetings, and their always thought-provoking newsletter, Business Events World.  Click here to view the latest edition, packed with information about new studies on the impact of association meetings both within the host destination and more widely.

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