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Our form and structure.

If you've coordinated many domestic meetings but never one held outside the United States, you're liable to be a bit nervous the first time you select an overseas site and plan the meeting. But planning an international meeting doesn't need to be a scary experience. In fact, working with an international convention bureau can help make your job easier, as will understanding how the form and structure of an international convention bureau differ from U.S. convention bureaus.

A basic difference is that most overseas convention bureaus divide international meetings into two categories. The first category is international conventions or international congresses, meetings composed of people from many different countries. The second is foreign meetings, in which the majority of attendees are from one country.

While an American convention bureau generally represents one city, many international bureaus--particularly in small countries--represent entire countries. The Danish Convention Bureau, Copenhagen, for example, represents the entire Kingdom of Denmark, including its capital Copenhagen and other convention cities like Odense, Aarhus, and Aalborg. The Danish Convention Bureau's seven--member staff is responsible for increasing the number of international conventions, corporate meetings, and incentive travel into Denmark.

Housing and booking services. National bureaus usually offer the same services as American bureaus. One exception is that national bureaus don't offer housing and booking services, because their membership often includes many independent, privately operated professional congress organizers (PCOs). A PCO offers associations a package that includes producing and mailing meeting announcements, sending out a call for papers, budgeting, booking hotel rooms and meeting facilities, staffing registration and hospitality desks, and arranging pre- and post-convention tours. An international convention bureau refers die association to a PCO.

In addition, many national bureaus have city-based convention bureaus with housing facilities as members. City-based convention bureaus attract domestic business to the city, while national bureaus attract international business to the country. For example, the Danish Convention Bureau handled preliminary details--initial contacts, site inspections, and so forth--for the American/international Quilt Association, Houston. Once AIQA chose Odense for its meeting, the Odense convention bureau took over and helped organize the association's European Quilt Expo and Convention.

When a bureau represents an entire nation, its expertise is generally international and multinational meetings. Whereas city-based bureaus seek to attract any meeting, the sole objective of national bureaus is to attract meeting business that results in foreign-exchange revenue. Therefore, the government typically subsidizes most national convention bureaus. The Danish Convention Bureau has several funding sources: government, 50 percent; founding industry organizations, including national airline and railway, 12.5 percent; bureau members, 17.5 percent; and member contributions for marketing efforts, 20 percent.

Lars Blicher-Hansen is managing director of the Danish Convention Bureau, Copenhagen, Denmark.
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Title Annotation:Allies Abroad; international conventions
Author:Blicher-Hansen, Lars
Publication:Association Management
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Previous Article:The international difference.
Next Article:A cornucopia of services.

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