Guide to Friendly International Meeting Centres
Proposal for a directory
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The Union of International Associations has had long experience of the international
meetings industry. In the 1950s it originated the conference series entitled
International Congress on Congress Organization. This gave rise to a
series of guidelines on the organization of international meetings. It also
gave rise to a number of spin-off professional organizations, notably the International
Association of Professional Congress Organizers. Most of the UIA Associated
Members are active in the meetings industry.
Since that period the meeting industry has become big business, and is
commercialized and highly professional. Nevertheless meetings sponsored or
international associations (in the UIA Yearbooks) remain an important segment
of the market.
There exist a number of commercial guides to conference centres which
follow the well-
known format of payment-for-entries, and payment-for-advertising. These are
oriented to draw attention to the larger conference centres.
There is a market niche for a more "congenial" guide to
conference locations which would
appeal to the more discerning in search of non-sterile meeting environments
needs are taken to heart. The challenge is to define the nature of such a
Some possible features:
(a) Basic technical details (seats, beds, etc), possibly with photo
(b) Meeting centres noted by one (or more) international associations as
worth going back to
(c) Select list of international associations that have held meetinge there
(d) Selected comments on the centre as received from international associations
(e) Quotient of approval (as with the Michelin hotel/restaurant star system)
based on average of international association comments
(f) General editorial comment "suitable for..." types of meeting,
The intention of an entry in the guide would be to give users a better sense
of the "feel" of
the place than is obtainable from the glossy, high-pressure commercial
furnished by larger conference venues.
One objective would be to give international associations some ability
to place pressure on
conference venues to "care more" for international association
Consideration might be given to producing the publication with other
bodies in the meeting
industry provided this did not jeopardize the UlA's editorial freedom.
Conference venues range from:
(a) Purpose-built conference centres
(b) Multi-purpose buildings also used for conferences
(c) Hotels specializing in conferences
(d) "Non-commercial" conference buildings (eg universities, schools,
notably during academic holidays)
(e) Unusual places: palaces, chateaux, etc
There are many such conference venues. The art of the first edition, at least,
would be to locate those preferentially "cited" by international
Scope of entries
It would be very easy to reverse the usual procedure and give more space
to the places most frequently cited, however small, and less to those less
frequently cited, however large. A major "unpopular" venue might
then only be listed with a minimal entry.
The editorial coverage would of course be influenced by the amount of cooperation
that the venue was prepared to give in elaborating the entry.
A policy would have to be elaborated to deal appropriately with venues that
put pressure on the editors to give undue space to their entry. This is of
course related to the question as to how advertising, if any, is to be handled.
One procedure would be to fix advertising rates in reverse proportion to the
number of "stars". Namely a one-star pays much more than a five-
star for advertising.
One common format is one-entry-per page. It is however recommended that the
format chosen be somewhat similar to the Yearbook type entries but with a
much larger print. In this way entries could vary in size from several lines
to a whole page. Illustrations would have to be thought about.
The publication might be 250-350 A4 pages in length.
This would involve the following elements:
1. Mailing of a questionnaire to organizations (this could include an order
form with pre-publication prices)
2. Entering and editing replies (with suitable provision for coding entries
and holding some in reserve)
3. Mailing a separate questionnaire to priority conference venues
(possibly inviting advertising and informing of "stars"; it could
include a pre-publication order form)
4. Supplementing the edited entry on the basis of the replies
5. Consideration could be given to UIA production of camera ready pages
- possibly with proof submission to the concerned venues.
6. A number of small indexes could be usefully generated.
In addition to marketing the Saur, it is envisioned that as a "congenial"
guide it would attract interesting reviews that would inform a broad potential
market. The international associations are natural customers.