The European Federation of Conference Towns (EFCT), the first European federation of meeting destinations, celebrated its 40th anniversary in Brussels during the Annual General Assembly and Sr Educational Forum from 5th to 8th February.
The event was hosted in Brussels where EFCT was officially formed in November 20, 1964. Since then, EFCT has overseen the birth and subsequent growth of the European meetings industry, and now boasts 93 member cities throughout Europe. Supported by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brussels International and Hotel Le Plaza, delegates had the opportunity during the event to tour the attractions of Brussels both by day and by evening.
Alongside the 40th Anniversary Celebrations, guest speakers and delegates (105 participants in all) were welcomed for the Sr Educational Forum, tackling key issues and challenges facing the meetings industry today. Delegates were welcomed at the opening of the Forum by Vincent Henderick of the Ministry of Economy and Employment in the Brussels Capital Region, and attended up to 11 Educational Sessions on current hot topics, during the course of a two-day program.
In the constantly evolving European meetings industry, the EFCT Sr Educational Forum aims to highlight major challenges for the industry such as the impact of the EU enlargement, and the central role of the procurement department in buying decisions for corporate meetings.
Ã¢Â€ÂœBecause we are in Brussels, home of the European Institutions, it was obvious that we take this opportunity to find about the activities of the European Commission, the European Institutions and their policy,Ã¢Â€Â stated EFCT President Henri Céran.
The Keynote speaker from the European Commission Francesco Ianniello, Head of Tourism in the Directorate General for Enterprise, informed participants on the workings of the EU institutions with regards to tourism and meetings, and stressed Commission interest in learning from the industry. The keynote session was supported by sessions from industry experts on: obtaining EU funding, VAT recovery and the challenge of incorporating many new languages.
Day 2 of the Sr Educational Forum focused on preparing European conference towns for upcoming trends in procurement, and the need to adapt to changes in purchasing in order for destinations to continue winning business. Jurriaen Sleijster, Deputy CEO of the MCI Group, encouraged the audience in his presentation: “Don’t resist change, adapt your organisation and trust your knowledge, as outsourcing will grow and procurement stays.”
Another element visible during the event was that of EFCTÃ¢Â€Â™s relationships within the meetings industry Ã¢Â€Â“ Hugo Slimbrouck, representing Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) also leading a session on JMICÃ¢Â€Â™s Ã¢Â€ÂœMeetings Mean ProgressÃ¢Â€Â campaign.
The next meeting will be held in Madeira 2006.