Darren Kerr, an award-winning creative communications veteran working within Asia and Australia for the past decade, has severed his ties with Imagination after taking the agency to its first awards in a decade – the prestigious Agency of the Year award along with two silver stars from the Marketing Event Awards for his B2B event work. “With the addition of a new regional managing director and a planned reorganisation of the Greater China business, the time was right for me to close out an extraordinarily successful 12 month contract where I had achieved all my goals for the business. It was timely to pass the baton on and return to the agency I founded on the business principle shared in the famous Tom Cruise film Jerry Maguire – ‘the key to business is personal relationships’,” Darren said. That agency is FACTOR168 Creative Event Company, a boutique agency based in Hong Kong and well regarded for producing distinctive experiential marketing programs for in-person and online consumption.


Vancouver will welcome 48,000 people from around the world for the 2025 International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous. This will be the single largest meeting ever held in the city with a footprint spanning both the Vancouver Convention Centre and BC Place Stadium. The news was announced on November 4 during the General Service Board Meeting at the A.A. General Service Office in New York. The international convention will take place from July 2 to 5, 2025, and is expected to contribute $71 million in direct spending to the local economy. The 2025 International Convention in Vancouver is the result of a 10-year journey involving the A.A. General Service Board and its General Service Office in New York, local A.A.s, Tourism Vancouver, the Vancouver Convention Centre, BC Place and local hotel partners. Vancouver bid for the first time in 2003, and attempted once more before securing the conference in 2013. More than a dozen North American cities were invited to bid for the highly coveted 2025 meeting, including Montreal, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Denver. Vancouver was selected for its award-winning facilities and infrastructure, close relationships among the hospitality community, and inspiring location next to the ocean and mountains.


Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. recently announced its Sheraton brand has reached the 100th hotel milestone in the Asia Pacific with the opening of Sheraton Shantou Hotel in China. Owned by Logan Group, Sheraton Shantou Hotel is one of nearly 30 new hotels in Asia Pacific this year, highlighting the brand’s growth trajectory in this rapidly developing region. Other recent openings include Sheraton Shenyang South City Hotel in China and Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas in Thailand.


The Seoul Metropolitan Government has released a Master Plan for the rapid development of Seoul’s meetings industry. The plan, drafted from meetings with over 50 of the city’s top meetings industry professionals, looks to significantly boost Seoul’s meetings industry capacity, and its competitiveness, with plans for large-scale development and new businesses and projects that will propel its growth. “With so many people arriving in Seoul on business, the city has selected the MICE industry as one of Seoul’s future core industries, especially because its economic benefits impact every other aspect of the business sector and economy as a whole,” said Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. A crucial element to Seoul’s Master Plan is to progressively develop large new areas of meetings infrastructure from 2014 to 2028 to increase the city’s meetings capacity. Part of this plan is already in effect, with the Dongdaemun Design Plaza scheduled to open in 2014 and a large convention centre next to Seoul Station set to open by 2018. This first step will boost Seoul’s meeting capacity from its current 64,000 square metres to 103,000 square metres, and form a major MICE region of convention centres and five-star hotels in the middle of the city. Several other large-scale MICE zones have been proposed for development by 2020.


The results of the first Chinese Meeting Planners Site Selection Survey were recently delivered by University of Greenwich senior lecturer in events management, Rob Davidson (pictured). The presentation was based on the findings generated from an online survey, which investigated the priorities and experiences of meeting planners based in China, in terms of the process of choosing destinations and venues for their events. Key to the findings of the research was the revelation that 35 per cent of Chinese meeting planners experienced difficulty in getting information about destinations outside China; and 47 per cent experienced difficulty in finding out about venues outside China. Factors influencing destination attractiveness in order of importance included: a pleasant climate, financial issues, both in the sense of economic stability and the possibility of destinations being able to offer financial or in-kind support to meeting planners, and visa requirements of host countries. Factors affecting venue attractiveness included: proximity to airport and public transportation closely followed by the provision of ‘fast internet’. Key issues identified with venues when organising events included inflexibility on the part of venues when negotiating elements affecting the price of using their facilities. Respondents also identified that being charged for services such as audio-visual, parking and security (that they think should be included in the basic price) was also a contributor to major annoyance. Venues being generally unyielding in negotiations on price, was also identified as a major factor. m


Meetings in 2030

Germany, Europe’s leading destination for meetings and conventions, recently released key findings of its study of megatrends shaping the industry, with some interesting findings.

The German Convention Bureau-backed research – Meetings and Conventions 2030: A study of megatrends shaping our industry – revealed five top trends:

Technology in work and life: More than 41.6 per cent of respondents identified technology in work and life to be very influential in the future of the meetings business. New forms of knowledge transfer will influence all phases of event planning. For example, the worlds of virtual and live events will blur as planners incorporate virtual components in live events and the number of networked virtual events increase.


  • Globalisation and internationalisation: Approximately 28.6 per cent felt very strongly that globalisation will have a major impact. Meetings will be all the more important to address issues that arise through increased interconnectedness of cultures and peoples. Individuals will need to be more aware of nuances among country cultures, preferences and lifestyles and speak multiple languages.
  • Mobility of the future: Getting to and from events easily and comfortably and with the smallest possible ecological footprint will continue to be an important aspect of event planning. Host organisations will affect this process through the selection of easily accessible event locations and the use of “event tickets” for air and train transportation, among other things. Mobility of the future came in at 26 per cent (very strong impact on the meetings industry).
  • Sustainable development: Sustainability will remain a guiding principle to influence all areas of meeting planning, from construction and renovation of venues, to transportation, food and entertainment. One aspect of this development is the increasing “regionalisation” of meetings, where meeting organisers focus more on utilising local suppliers as well as inviting local and regional audiences more than before. Sustainability scored 20.8 per cent (very strong impact on the meetings industry).
  • Demographic change, feminisation and diversity: Demographic change was cited by 18.2 per cent of respondents as “very strong.” An increasingly older meeting attendee population will require accessibility, but the implications extend significantly beyond getting around; they affect the meeting format, even the credentials and demographics of the speakers and presenters. Additionally, as more women travel the meetings circuit, features such as additional security for women traveling alone and child care, among others, will need to be considered. Meeting topics and flexible formats will also be shaped by the growing number of females traveling to meetings and conferences. Similar considerations, such a food choices and holiday observances, must be made as the meeting populations become increasingly diverse.

The study was based on literature and document evaluation, a brainstorming workshop, interviews with experts and the three proven methods of scientific future research: trend analyses, scenario development and road-mapping. m