Karen Bolinger

In an exclusive interview with TRAVEL AND TOUR WORLD,  Karen Bolinger, Managing Director APAC – PCMA, talks about how Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) is working tirelessly to create sucessful events along with knowledge sharing to adapt new in global MICE landscape.

Travel And Tour World: How is Professional Convention Management Association working to ensure members have the tools they need to design and deliver events now?

Karen Bolinger: PCMA APAC has been working tirelessly throughout this period to ensure members have access to the tools and support they need in order to create successful virtual and hybrid events.

It’s important to us that we add value to our members and help the industry reskill and upskill. We are initiating conversations about how we can all adapt to the new MICE landscape, we are facilitating peer-to-peer sessions, and we are providing practical courses.

One example is our Digital Events Strategist course which has been specifically designed to give event organisers the practical tools and information they need to help members pivot their business to offer engaging online events. The course covers all aspects from strategy and securing sponsors, to technology, production and marketing.

We also run Community Connect sessions, which is an APAC-specific peer-to-peer meeting series designed to facilitate open conversations. These sessions include up to 30 industry professionals from corporates through to associations, where they can discuss and share their challenges and recovery strategies. Attendance at APAC Community Connect events is complimentary for non-members until 31 December 2020.

On 10 November 2020, we are hosting a hybrid digital and face-to-face event in Sydney Australia, called Convening Asia Pacific. This event is an intensive four-hour program co-created by event planners and the industry and includes case studies, workshops, and strategic content. While the solutions are constantly changing and adapting, Convening Asia Pacific will cover the most up-to-date thinking and training.

We are particularly interested in sharing what will occur amongst participants as we facilitate important discussions. Only together will we work to create viable solutions and find ways to adapt and continue our journey to recovery.

The hybrid delivery of events, both large and small, will be with us for a long time, however, we need to ensure the entire event ecosystem is properly equipped for the journey.





Travel And Tour World: What strategies has Professional Convention Management Association taken to support the MICE industry?

Karen Bolinger: PCMA APAC is rolling out its strategic plan, which is solely designed to deliver professional development, build our planner community, and provide expertise and leadership. We are focusing on three pillars – participant experience, business models and reskilling/upskilling job essentials – to make sure our members are equipped with the tools for the new future.

Whether we are talking about hybrid, face-to-face, or digital events, we want to make sure that during this time we are providing opportunities for growth.





Travel And Tour World: How would you describe Professional Convention Management Association in the APAC region and globally?

Karen Bolinger: PCMA APAC are always creating new programs and looking to add value to how we fulfil our member’s and the industry’s needs during this time, with a view to the future. Going online has actually seen our participation numbers increase, which indicates we are striking a chord with what people need right now. The missing element is the face-to-face contact and collaboration opportunities which associations fulfil through their membership.

We have continued to engage with our members by conducting global surveys on the state of the industry and sharing the results in our Business Events Compass. As restrictions start to ease, we will look to host hybrid events like our upcoming Convening Asia Pacific event in November.




Travel And Tour World: How has PCMA influenced event planners with knowledge sharing?

Karen Bolinger: With the staggering rate of change going on in the industry, it is vital we talk to each other.

PCMA APAC encourage members to share their insights, feedback and to connect with other members. The events community is a big family, we all know someone who knows someone, and what we do at PCMA is facilitate those conversations, connections and peer-to-peer learning, which is so valuable, especially during this time.

PCMA facilitate Community Connect community-driven sessions which allow us to have open and honest conversations in which attendees share practical tips, insights, and ideas on how to approach all the new aspects of events. These sessions have been getting great feedback and are tailored to verticals which mean the conversations are relevant and engaging. We invite everyone to attend these highly valuable sessions.





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