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Article Published 27/01/21

Since 2012, VisitScotland Business Events has been a strategic partner of global events association PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association), headquartered in Chicago, US. Scotland now has the largest membership in PCMA's EMEA region.

As a strategic partner, we gain access to a wealth of industry contacts, reports and insights, educational sessions and opportunities to showcase our country's world class business events sector on a global platform. So far, we have secured some valuable opportunities, including sponsorship of chapter workshops and speaking opportunities.

Strategic move

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PCMA Convening Leaders 2020, San Francisco.

VisitScotland Business Events has recently created and implemented a new strategy for the country's business events sector, the Policy Driven Model. This approach aligns the national objectives of business events with Scotland's values, achievements and ambitions at a city, regional and national level. This also complements PCMA's vision of using business events as a driver for global economic change and social transformation.

Discussing PCMA's global strategy, Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events at VisitScotland and a member of PCMA's Board of Directors, said: "PCMA is truly at the forefront of elevating business events to a higher strategic level, and a lot of this informs our own thinking. We identify closely with PCMA's messaging and it inspired some of the strategy behind our award-winning Legends campaign."

How does Scotland benefit?

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PCMA Convening Leaders 2019, Pittsburgh.

There are a variety of benefits VisitScotland, and the business events community across Scotland, receive as a partner of PCMA, the main one of which is the opportunity to engage with the association's 7,500+ global members through various channels and events.

Neil added: "PCMA is a no pressure, non-selling environment. It is about forming relationships, networks and trust. Sherrif Karamat, CEO of PCMA once told me "your net worth is your network" and that is how I see it. By being at the table with PCMA, VisitScotland and our strategic partners across Scotland are declaring our intent and occupying a seat at the top table of business events destinations."

Senior members of the VisitScotland Business Events team regularly attend PCMA events including the PCMA European Influencers Summit and its flagship congress, Convening Leaders, which typically attracts up to 6,000 business events strategists from around the globe. The events provide executive level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence.

The educational element of the events alongside the opportunity to connect with world leading event strategists is hugely beneficial for Scotland and its partners. It ensures the country can remain on the cutting edge of what is relevant for the sector and can also help to shape future strategic plans and business event campaigns.

The future for PCMA and Scotland

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PCMA Convening Leaders 2020, San Francisco.

In September, PCMA announced the appointment of its new Business Director, EMEA, Jaimé Bennett.

Jaimé has been actively involved in the UK business events sector for more than 15 years, building partnerships and delivering events across the globe. In her new role, she will ensure that PCMA continues to develop products and services that serve the unique needs of its EMEA audiences and partners.

While the annual Convening Leaders event couldn't take place in its usual format this year, PCMA took its programme online and focused on three core themes - Participant Engagement, Business Models and Reskilling - based on its ongoing campaign of research, reskilling, event experimentation and education based on insights from its members.

Brownlee said: "In a time where we are glued to our screens and many of us have conference call fatigue, I was really impressed with the thought and planning that went into the sessions for Convening Leaders 2021. They were immersive and engaging and truly captured the essence of an 'in person' event."

"Events like this, and many of the others we have attended recently have provided fantastic education sessions and insights from our counterparts and colleagues from across the globe. We regularly share these learnings with our partners as we look to support the revival and renewal of Scotland's business events sector."

Through Jaime's work, the schedule for Convening Leaders 2021 includes Europe specific content based on the results of PCMA's recent Engagement Survey, as well as promoting the latest iteration of its Digital Event Strategist Certification. This content will greatly benefit VisitScotland Business Events partners as they prepare for the reopening of the country's business events sector.

Jaimé said: "PCMA are committed to building on the already strong strategic partnership with VisitScotland. We are working closely with Neil as a PCMA board member and EMEA board liaison and his team, to identify opportunities relevant to the business events community across Scotland."