Newsletter – Feb/March 2021

Food for Thought: Associations & the long war for truth

It is frequently remarked that we have entered a post-truth era, a time when specialist expertise and scientific knowledge are increasingly under fire, whilst the ever-increasing complexity of every aspect of our society means that these attributes have become existentially necessary. 

Global Association Hubs media partner Boardroom has just published our thoughts on why international associations need to play a far more meaningful role in this struggle, indeed, why they are uniquely positioned to play such a role, along with some practical recommendations on how to address this issue with your Board and in your future strategic plans.

Everybody’s an Expert at Everything!

Martin Sirk
Global Association Hubs International Advisor

UIA 2020 data on International Association HQs

The latest annual snapshot from the Union of International Associations on where international associations locate their HQs and regional offices has once again placed Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington DC at the very top of their regional rankings, with each city increasing their regional market share compared to 2019.  For the first time, the four cities collectively now host over 10% of all such offices, 3,898 (4.2% increase on 2019) out of a total of 38,824 worldwide (1.9% increase on 2019).

As more and more associations recognise the importance of having “boots on the ground” to serve their worldwide members, and to more effectively extend their global influence in the such areas as certification, lifelong learning and professional standards, we look forward to even more growth in future years.

Please click here for a summary chart of international office locations from 2006 to 2020.

Brussels presents:
European Association Summit 2021 – The Future is Now!

20 – 22 April 2021
Format: Virtual/online
Registration opens 1 March 2021 

Building on the success of past editions of EAS held face-to-face in Brussels, this year’s event moves entirely online to reach an even wider audience, but promises exactly the same combination of high quality content on the most important association challenges and opportunities, and lively interaction with your peers in the international association community.

There will be over 30 custom-designed education sessions, including an interactive workshop on “Perfect Partnerships” presented by Global Association Hubs, with a mix of plenaries and four concurrent streams to choose from, and online networking to enable you to connect and share your insights and experience.

New approaches to strategic planning and business models, virtual and hybrid event management, digitisation strategy, virtual advocacy and coalition-building are just some of the hot topics being presented, as we start to look beyond the Pandemic to the future impact of associations and their place in the world.

PCMA Convening Leaders 2021 in Singapore:
Delivering Social Progress: How Associations are Evolving to Stay Relevant

Singapore was one of the first destinations in the world to re-open face-to-face business events, thanks to their excellent performance in controlling Covid-19 and the comprehensive safe meeting protocols that have been introduced.

PCMA took advantage of this in January to organise a global multi-hub hybrid congress that featured Singapore’s tech-enhanced Marina Bay Sands as the Asian hub, and included a provocative session on how associations are evolving to be ready for a post-pandemic future, featuring Dr Shirlena Soh from Association of Biomedical Laboratory Professionals Singapore, Tommy Goodwin from Miller Wenhold Association Management and Global Association Hubs International Advisor Martin Sirk.  Expert moderation was provided by Yeoh Siew Hoon from WiT Events.

The full session recording can be viewed by clicking on the title of this article.

Missed January’s PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2021 hybrid event? Access all sessions on demand from the largest gathering of global business event professionals until March 15th

Dubai demonstrates its high-tech and future-focused credentials to the world

EXPO 2020 – link to premiere on Thematic Pavilions
This pandemic-postponed mega-event will open in October this year, and as well as entertaining and astounding hordes of visitors, it will provide serious educational insights into solutions for the biggest societal challenges the world faces, and will play host to a wide range of scientific and corporate events.  And when the visitors depart, Dubai will have another impressive range of ultra-modern facilities for live events, with international association meetings as a prime target.

UAE Hope Probe to Mars
Dubai’s most ambitious space venture to date has recently entered a successful orbit around the Red Planet, a moment of huge pride across the entire Middle East.  The mission was conceived and controlled by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, which was founded in 2006 with the ambition to achieve world-class excellence in space science and to stimulate inward investment across the much wider advanced technology field.  This is encouraging the world’s leading space-related associations to hold their meetings in Dubai, including the prestigious International Astronautical Congress.

Washington DC: 6th Annual BioHealth Capital Region Forum

The capital region has one of the USA’s biggest concentrations of bio-tech, pharmaceutical and healthcare software companies, with an ever-increasing number of start-ups specialising in this sector.  This isn’t surprising given the huge number of healthcare associations located in and around Washington DC, and the presence of many of the most important government agencies.  All of these are invaluable resources and potential partners for international healthcare associations planning US events and educational programmes.

This report on a recent meeting of the BioHealth Capital Region Forum illustrates the breadth of related expertise, not just on vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19, but also related to Ebola, influenza, RSV and SARS.  

Singapore presents: Connect@Changi
A solution for those essential international Board, planning and project meetings that can’t wait for Covid-19 to end!

Whilst a few countries have managed to reopen for domestic business and association meetings, understandable risk-aversion by both destinations and delegates has made international F2F gatherings almost impossible to arrange, unless delegates first undergo lengthy quarantine.  

Singapore has just unveiled an innovative solution that is ideal for international associations as well as multinational companies, enabling attendees to use Singapore as a regional or global hub, to meet safely and efficiently for those mission-critical meetings that just won’t work over Zoom.

Singapore EXPO repurposed sections of its exhibition space, and there is an all-in package of airport transfers, PCR tests, accommodation, meeting space, technology and refreshments.  Video conferencing technology enables any small top-level F2F meeting to connect with colleagues worldwide. In the initial phase there are bedrooms for 150 and 40 meeting rooms (up to 22 capacity), but this will expand in phases to a maximum capacity of 1300 users at any one time.

More information can be found in this article.


Global Association Hubs is one of the first partners to sign up to this new initiative that’s been created by Boardroom and community-building tech company Bond, designed to help international associations connect, discuss and address the most pressing challenges facing our sector over the coming decade.  

We and other partners will be leading online discussions involving small groups of association leaders and thinkers, with an open invitation to other associations to “eavesdrop” on the conversation and to throw their own suggestions in for consideration.  But it will also be a resource centre and self-organising community hub.

More information from their website.  Watch out for regular updates as the project evolves, including the first Global Association Hubs Conversation coming mid-March.

The Iceberg presents: February edition of Business Events World

As always, our partner’s publication is packed full of case studies and thought-provoking articles on the wider impact of international meetings and their future evolution, always with a strong focus on the international association sector.

Latest edition of Boardroom magazine now available for download!

Global Association Hubs’ media partner has just released the first 2021 digital edition of their magazine, packed with great articles. The main theme this edition is “The Challenges of Digitisation”, a challenge that all associations are wrestling with, now that the Pandemic has dramatically accelerated change in this area.  Plus a thought-provoking article from Martin Sirk!


Association Laboratory Inc introduces: 

Looking Forward Together

Watch out for this series of digital workshops from Association Laboratory and the Association Laboratory Research Alliance, of which Global Association Hubs is a strategic partner.

Tackling the biggest challenges identified by association executives, these workshops combine expert analysis and peer collaboration, to help you fully tackle each topic. Attendees receive 3 CAE hours, as well as access to the Looking Forward dashboard and a post-event executive summary.

Workshop calendar (All on Wednesdays):

March 10 – Membership: The Power of Community – Energizing Your Membership Base With Impactful Community Engagement
March 24 – Education: Aligning Your Content With Their Need – Pivoting Your Educational Offerings
April 7 – Components: A Tale of Two Members – Collaborating with Components to Deliver a Consistent Member Experience
April 21 – Global Strategy: Re-energizing Global Partnerships in a New Landscape
May 5 – Education: Building Online Event Content Your Members and Sponsors Want
May 19 – Advocacy: Standing Out in a Crowd – Strategies for Making Your Voice Heard in Government
June 2 – Leadership: Building a Leadership Pipeline of Diverse Perspectives and Backgrounds

See more useful resources »

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter to be updated on new resources, news and future events.

* Indicates required