The Importance of Partnerships by Paul Vallee of BestCities Global Alliance

By | 2019

Paul Vallee is managing director of the BestCities Global Alliance. He is responsible for the successful delivery of the alliance’s strategic plan, performance monitoring and overseeing its operations. Here he speaks on the growing trend for partnerships in associations and how the industry can benefit from collaboration.

Why are partnerships so important?

The beauty of a partnership, to me, is working together to complement one another and to build something creative and fresh that one may not have otherwise been able to do. That’s the primary advantage and the purpose of partnering. BestCities as an alliance has built its foundations on partnerships and works to help destinations and associations identify partnerships that would work for them.

How can an organisation find the right partner for them?

You have to consider your association’s needs and areas of strength, using that as a basis to define where the best fit lies. What is it that will make you as an organisation prosper? The best way to identify a suitable partner is to find those who are complimentary to what it is you are doing. It’s not about the similarities, it’s the differences that organisations may have that can make the partnership flourish – meaning that even the more unconventional pairings shouldn’t be ruled out when considering a partnership.

When an association is considering a partnership, they need to find a party that are willing to put in an equal amount of effort which takes shape in various forms, from money, to time, resource, knowledge and man power.

What are the key benefits of a partnership?

 The key elements where partnerships can benefit an organisation are, like anything in business, improving the bottom line, whether it’s financial or otherwise, increasing sales and enhancing reputation.

What’s an example of an effective partnership that you have observed?

One that I have overseen and have been closest to would be between BestCities and ICCA, because while we exist in the same sphere, we are not exactly the same. We work together with ICCA on various programmes that give back to the industry, such as the recognition programme and Incredible Impacts. We’re a business and a global alliance, whereas they are an association that works in education and holding conferences. They offer areas of skills and expertise that we don’t have and vice versa.

Are there common challenges that associations would need to overcome in partnerships?

There are definitely challenges that can arise when establishing a partnership. One thing to consider is that ‘no partner is more important that the other’. Regardless of the scale of the organisation, its key to avoid a hierarchal partnership, as each organisation involved should be bringing an equal amount of value to the collaboration.

Another potential challenge is being able to agree upon and streamline the common goal and objective to work towards. You’ve got to be tolerant, you’ve got to be flexible, you’ve got to trust one another and recognise that each partner has strengths and weaknesses – understanding and overcoming cultural or operational differences.

Where do you see the future of collaboration and partnership with associations going and BestCities’ role within that?

When associations and destinations find common ground, great things can happen. For example, an association that specialises in the eradication of a disease will find common ground from destinations that wants to improve the health of the citizens. Or for instance, an association whose purpose is to reduce child poverty is really no different to a destination who wants to see their young people survive and thrive.

What we’re moving towards is associations taking advantage of the benefits of collaboration and partnership in refreshing new ways, using these to extend offers and working towards a better future that benefits all. That’s a partnership to me.

How does BestCities decide on which destinations to join its partnership?

There are key criteria for the Alliance when considering new destinations joining the partnership. Among many things, we consider destinations that have demonstrated leadership in working towards joint goals, being accountable for results, having open and honest communications and thinking long term.

We look for partners that demonstrate a track record in partnering and collaboration, with a compelling reputation, which adds value to the Alliance through everything from cultural diversity, geographic balance and client reach.

This Year’s AIME Embraces Sustainability Collaborates with Green Partners

By | 2019

The event has announced a series of partnerships with companies set to champion sustainability at the 2019 event and, will see the green initiatives showcased at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (MCEC) which is the host venue.

As the first convention centre in the world to be awarded a 6-Star Green Star environmental rating, MCEC has placed sustainability at the core of their business priorities. Over the past three years, the centre has reduced carbon emissions per square metre by 16 per cent, and is on track to achieve its target of 30 per cent by 2021 against 2015 levels.

“We replaced over 600 light fittings to energy-efficient alternatives and have eliminated the use of all plastic water bottles in catering. These initiatives demonstrate that we are going far beyond a ‘tick box’ approach by implementing unique and innovative measures, which benefit Melbourne, the local community, and more directly, AIME’s environmental impact”, said Leighton Wood, chief operating officer, MCEC.

DE&E and their award-winning design team have created ‘The Embassy Suite’, a new sleek and stylish stand concept designed for AIME. The Embassy Suites are built with natural materials such as timber, which can be reused and recycled with ease. As part of the event, the DE&E team will also pack down the suites and store for exhibitors as they can be reused at AIME for three years. If exhibitors choose to not reuse the stand, the team will reuse, repurpose, rehire and reupholster to minimise waste.

The 2019 event will also see Harry the Hirer ensure environmental sensitivity by minimising wastage and recycling materials at every available opportunity. This includes opportunities when building the infrastructure and also when taking it apart.

According to the Global Destinations Index, Melbourne ranked number one as a sustainable city for business events in the Asia-Pacific region. Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) who are proprietors of AIME, are excited to showcase the city’s innovative offerings to the event’s interstate and international delegates.

World-class Luxury Experiences to Showcase at AIME 2019

Exhibitors confirmed to lead the premium line-up include: One & Only Resorts, Daydream Island Resort and the Belmond. Other luxury travel exhibitors attending the 2019 event include Galaxy Macau, The Ritz Carlton Hawaii and Maverick Helicopters.

“We’re extremely excited to be welcoming some of the finest high end services in the industry. Our 2019 event will be a true representation of the growth of luxury travel, as well as the perfect platform to showcase some magical locations and venues available. From intimate resorts to wilderness wonders – there’s a an experience waiting to be discovered that can truly elevate your next event,” said Matt Pearce, director, Talk2 Media & Events.

AIME 2019 has to date confirmed exhibitors from across 20 different countries, broadening the event to reflect the Asia Pacific region and its unique destinations and cultures.

Running from 18–20 February, AIME is the first event to kick off the 2019 MICE calendar and is held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

To register to attend AIME 2019 as a visitor please visit, or for more details please visit

IAAPA Announces New Global Brand

By | 2019

The global association for the attractions industry has revamped its brand identity with a new look and logo to demonstrate its readiness to support the global attractions industry well into the next 100 years.

“This new identity is the result of a thoughtful, three-year strategic initiative led by many IAAPA members,” said Jeff Klocke, chairman of the IAAPA Branding Taskforce and vice president and general manager of Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.

“Through surveys, interviews, and research we came to better understand how members view IAAPA, and what services and resources they need and want from the association. IAAPA members shared they value the vast diversity found within our industry, and view IAAPA as the source to make lasting connections and feel inspired.”

The resulting new logo includes a wide, bright color palette representing the diversity of professionals and constituencies that make up the global attractions industry. The burst in the middle conveys the sparks of inspiration when individuals come together, and the strong, solid IAAPA letters reflect the strength of the industry while the flares signify forward movement.

In addition to a new brand image, IAAPA’s three Global Expos have been renamed to IAAPA Expo Asia; Euro Attractions Show; and IAAPA Attractions Expo. IAAPA has been running trade shows for many years with overwhelming results. Its Asia Expo (previously called Asian Attractions Expo) rotates through the Asia-Pacific region to provide attendees the opportunity to see and learn from new locations, attractions and areas of the industry.

IAAPA Expo Asia is returning to Shanghai, China this year to be held from June 11 until at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.  The 2019 show will feature innovations, concepts and products from over 300 companies from around the world.

MICE  in Asia is a media partner of IAAPA Expo Asia 2019.

What can We Expect from ITB China this Year

By | 2019

Nicole Ci the project manager of ITB China discusses in which direction the event is heading:

What changes have you made to the show this year?

The market in China continues to enjoy robust growth, and as a result we have ambitious plans to evolve the event this year, with several enhanced features. Based on the changing market as well as ongoing conversations with our customers, top of our agenda is to attract more international exhibitors, especially from Europe and Asia, as well as new domestic destinations, to reflect the growing interest in holding events in the region.

This year we expect around 400 hosted buyers to attend the show, and to meet exhibitor needs we plan to increase the proportion of association Hosted Buyers, whilst keeping the same high number of corporate buyers that we achieved last year (30 percent) with the remainder from agencies. Around 20 percent of the hosted buyers will be international.

As is the case across the industry, the key to the success of an event is creating an inspiring and interesting backdrop. As such this year, we’re introducing an ‘Experience Zone’, where visitors will be able to interact with select exhibitors in immersive themed environments on the show floor. Additionally, in response to customer demand for more opportunities to learn and be inspired by outside speakers, eight new speaker slots have been added to our cutting-edge Knowledge Programme, which will cover four key themes, taking the number of speaker slots to 18.

What factors have influenced the changes to the exhibitor / hosted buyer mix?

This is a buoyant market experiencing rapid growth, with a huge outbound business travel market, making it a very attractive proposition for international exhibitors. Oxford Economics estimated that outbound business travel from China reached USD100 billion in 2018, up 26 percent on 2017. Hosted Buyers who come to IBTM China are eager to place business with international exhibitors, as well as domestic, and it is for this reason that we have decided to shift the exhibitor mix slightly in favour of international exhibitors.

In terms of the hosted buyer mix, the association meetings market in the region is on the rise, and to meet our exhibitors’ needs, who have told us they would like to meet with more association buyers, we plan to attract more association hosted buyers to the event this year.

Can you tell us more about the new Experience Zone?

Our new ‘Experience Zone’ gives select exhibitors the opportunity to bring their product offering to life in front of an engaged audience of quality buyers, and it offers hosted buyers the chance to experience amazing event themes and ideas to take home ideas for their next events. Plus, with VR show rounds of event spaces becoming more commonplace, this was a logical next step, to enable our delegates to re-create the event experience under one roof and provide an experience that is just as much about showing as telling. It’s an exciting concept that we’re keen to develop and further details of exhibitors will be announced in due course.

IBTM China  will take place in Beijing from Auguist 28 to 29 at at China National Convention Centre (CNCC).

AIME Partners with Guide Dogs Victoria for Industry-First Sensory Experience at Its 2019 Event

By | 2019

Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) announced an innovative partnership with Australia’s most-trusted charity, Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV), to launch a pop-up sensory experience workshop.

Guide Dogs Victoria will run its award-winning program, Dialogue in the Dark, as part of AIME’s refreshed Knowledge Program, sponsored by the Melbourne Convention Bureau. Participants can expect an immersive experience designed to offer them the opportunity to kick-start AIME by challenging their own limits, overcoming boundaries, and discovering their hidden potential – all while being led through tasks in complete darkness by facilitators who have low vision.

“The Knowledge Program is all about community, diversity, innovation and inclusivity, and we’re thrilled to partner with GDV. Between us, we can highlight the extraordinary ability rather than the disability within this community and how we can learn from them,” said Matt Pearce, director of Talk2 Media & Events.

Founded by social entrepreneur Andreas Heinecke in Hamburg in 1988, Dialogue in the Dark has been experienced by more than 10 million visitors across 39 countries and employed upwards of 10,000 people with blindness or partial blindness.

Dialogue in the Dark will be heldheld exclusively for participants at AIME

2019 and will run across four sessions throughout the Knowledge Program on Monday February 18.

For more details on Dialogue in the Dark, visit, or to submit interest in attending AIME 2019, visit

MITEC Shifts Perceptions of Meeting Venue’s Food and Beverage Offerings

By | 2019

Taking the cue from global food trend of the ‘click plate’ of sharing food pictures, Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre incorporates Instagram-worthy food presentation and culinary display taking you on a palate adventure. MITEC began the year by bringing the significance of the hashtag #myfoodmalaysia into its food and beverage offerings through its brand #justdifferent.

Crafted to specification, the MITEC team is showcasing their bold move and expertise through the Flying Lunch Stall concept: whereby all cutlery and utensils are disposable and recyclable; colourful seasonal fruits themed for a healthier, refreshing and eye-teasing coffee break; and, a dining dessert bar on the table – presented by the MITEC’s award-winning pastry chef David Auyong.

Visitors can also savour MITEC’s signature colourful giant doughnut and assorted long baguette sandwiches of at least 120 inch long.

“This time, we are shifting perceptions of what people expect from meeting spaces,” explained the man behind the latest culinary creations at Malaysia’s largest trade and exhibition centre, executive chef, Chiew Chee Mun.

According to the executive chef MITEC’s food and beverage offerings, have moved from large-scale pre-packaged food of standard buffet offerings to individual portioning. Local cuisines are introduced with fusion elements in the dishes, but the ingredients are locally sourced with Malaysian cooking style.

ITB China and China Tourism Association to Extend their Strategic Partnership

By | 2019

Riding on the success of last year’s edition, ITB China and the China Tourism Association (CTA) renewed their strategic partnerships. David Axiotis, general manager of ITB China and Rungang Zhang, secretary general & vice president of China Tourism Association, signed the partnership agreement.

CTA’s engagement in ITB China 2019 will include several marketing activities to mutually promote each other as well as, to enhance business opportunities and raise global awareness for the Chinese travel industry.

Zhang Rungang, secretary general & vice president of China Tourism Association said:  “With the rapid growth of China’s economy, Chinese travellers are increasingly fond of traveling the world. ITB China’s diversified exhibitor resources, in-depth insights on industry trends and professional experience in forum and exhibition operation provide a premium platform of communication and networking to Chinese travel companies, helping them to improve service quality and offer greater experience to Chinese tourists.”

He added, “As the largest trade association of the tourism industry in China, China Tourism Association is honored to continue to work with ITB China, China’s top travel trade show, in 2019, to promote the exchange between Chinese travel companies and international peers and drive joint development.”

The China Tourism Association (CTA) was founded in 1986 and is the first industry association for China’s travel and tourism industry approved by The State Council of the People’s Republic of China. As a representative of civil tourism in China and with its 4,000 members CTA, covers all business forms of China’s tourism industry.

ITB China 2019 Renews Partnership with European Travel Commission – Europe Largest Exhibitor at China’s Marketplace for Travel Industry

By | 2019

Chinese tourism to Europe is increasing and this year’s ITB China sees a rising demand for exhibition space by European destinations – this reflects the trend of Europe remaining the number one long-haul destination for Chinese tourists. The European Travel Commission (ETC) with its members has signed up for ITB China 2019, and will have a stronger exhibition presence at the three-day B2B travel show

The ETC is presenting transnational cultural and natural experiences in the European pavilion along with other European countries on the show floor such as Finland, Germany and Portugal. The growth potential of countries and regions from South and Eastern Europe are also reflected in this pavilion.

Among many others, the Catalan Tourist Board, Malta Tourism Authority, Hungarian Tourism Agency Ltd and Tourism Association of Canton Sarajevo will present their services and products to China’s top travel buyers and trade visitors at ITB China 2019.

ITB China 2019 will take place from May15 to 17 at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre in Hall 1. The show is a three-day business to business travel trade fair that focuses exclusively on the Chinese travel industry. Also to talk place parallel with the show is the ITB China Conference.

More details are available at

MICE in Asia is a media partner of ITB China 2019.

Amazing Thailand Countdown 2019 at ICONSIAM

By | 2018

Tourism Authority of Thailand and ICONSiam has collaborated to organise a New Year celebration in a scale never seen before. Together with other partners, have mapped out a plan to make the upcoming event a grand New Year celebration on December 31 from 6.00 pm where the venue will be at the River Park of ICONSIAM along the Chao Phraya in Bangkok.

The theme of the event by the riverside  “The River of Prosperity” will highlight eco-friendly firework displays covering a distance of over 1,400 metres.  It’ll be the first display ever in Thailand where, a total of one million people within the vicinity of two kilometers are expected to attend. There will also be entertainment activities of artists from both local and overseas.

Fireworks made from Thai sticker rice demonstrates the history of the Chao Phraya River pertaining to the Thai way of life, tradition and legends of Siam as a country. This five-minute fireworks display is composed of five acts:  Act 1 The River of Prosperity a display in silver, gold, and bronze colours held together consecutively; Act 2 The Siam Treasure of multiple shapes and colours; Act 3 The Blossom of Joy accompanied by Thai folk songs; Act 4 One World represents the flags of all countries; and Act 5 Thailand of the tricolours of the Thai flag.

Thai culture will be showcased at the event with a magnificent show of ‘Khon’ that is culturally grand and elegant recognised as a World Heritage by UNESCO. Throughout the years, this show has impressed a great number of tourists in Thailand.


Generosity of Cathay Pacific Passengers Make a Difference in Lives of Children around the World

By | 2018

The Cathay Pacific Group and the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF Hong Kong) announced that a total of HKD11.7 million was raised from the Change for Good in flight fundraising programme in 2017.

This partnership according to Judy Chen, chairman of UNICEF Hong Kong, has engaged millions of Cathay Pacific passengers in contributing to UNICEF’s global mission of giving every child a chance to survive and thrive.

Rupert Hogg, Cathay Pacific’s chief executive officer mentioned that he is deeply touched by the overwhelming generosity of the passengers in enabling the airline, to raise nearly HKD190 million over the years of the Change for Good programme.

Since its launch in 1991, the programme has successfully converted spare change from Cathay Pacific passengers into supplies and services to improve the lives of vulnerable children worldwide. The airline has designated HKD2.73 million out of the total donation in 2017 to support UNICEF’s Schools for Asia programme in Myanmar and India.

The thematic programme which aligns with one of the airline’s key community engagement endeavours of promoting youth development aims to; provide quality and sustainable learning for children. A particular focus is on disadvantaged children who are less likely to receive education because of their gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic location or economic circumstance.

Summer of 2019 Cathay Pacific will offer daily a non-stop service to Seattle strengthening the only direct link between Hong Kong and the bustling city on the west coast of the United States.  Flown by the airline’s technologically-advanced Airbus A350-900 aircraft, the Seattle route is Cathay Pacific’s eighth to the United States that follows existing services to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), New York (Newark), San Francisco and Washington DC.

Above:  Rupert Hogg, Chief Executive Officer, Cathay Pacific (2nd from right) and Director Customer, Simon Large (2nd from left) with UNICEF Hong Kong Chairman, Judy Chen (centre).
Top left:  Cathay Pacific employees visiting a kindergarten in Guizhou, China.
Top right:  Observing a class of girls attending school in Nepal.