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Convention centres seek approval

Along with the Business Destinations Travel awards, other forms of recognition are important to convention centres

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Choosing the right convention centre at which to hold an event or conference can be a challenging task, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the facilities that are available in a particular area.

There are two major international institutions that certify convention centres: the International Association of Congress Centres, and the International Association of Conference Centres.

The International Association of Congress Centres
The International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC) considers itself to be the leading association in the industry. AIPC has committed itself to “encouraging and recognising excellence” in the management of convention centres, while at the same time assisting convention centres to comply with these high standards through its educational, research, and networking programmes.

AIPC membership is open to all convention centres – provided they comply with the standards laid down by the association. A site inspection is carried out by an AIPC official before a convention centre’s application for membership can be approved.

The AIPC Quality Standards programme is industry-specific and aims to set standards for evaluating important areas of convention centre performance. A convention centre has to comply with the most stringent international standards before it will pass an AIPC Quality Standards audit.

The International Association of Conference Centres
The International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) is a facilities-based non-profit organisation whose mission is to give assistance to members in “providing the most productive meeting facilities around the world.” To become a member of IACC a conference centre has to comply with some of the highest quality standards in the industry.

Among the criteria used by the IACC are:

Priority of business
–    A minimum of 60 percent of available meeting space must be dedicated to conference space.
–    A non-residential conference centre must generate at least 70 percent of its income from selling conference space.
–    For a residential conference centre, this figure is 60 percent.

Design
The design of the centre has to comply with a long list of criteria covering the size of the centre, storage space, separation of leisure and living areas, tables provided, lighting, windows, curtains, climate control, acoustical rating, permissible background noise, sound systems, and telephone and internet access.

Services
Here the association looks at the availability of trained staff members, a trained conference planner, and the availability of a properly equipped business centre for the use of delegates.

Food and beverages
The criteria here is that the centre should have a separate dining venue for the use of delegates. This venue should be able to accommodate all conference delegates in no more than two sittings. There should also be refreshments available outside conference rooms.

Technology
The centre must have the facilities to use all the latest portable audio-visual equipment. The availability of microphones, flip charts, and video equipment is also an important criterion. Centres over a certain size must also have a retractable projection screen. Technicians who know how to handle this equipment should be on call during conferences.

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