The World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) is a large-scale event, usually held once every four years.
The decision to hold the 18th WCOA in Kuala Lumpur in late 2010 represented only the second time it had gone to Asia. That meant the joint organisers were especially keen that delegates should not only benefit from the formal conferencing but, while networking, get a real taste for the destination itself.
Organisation of the event was split between the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) and AOS Convention Services, a local PCO.
With more than 6,000 delegates from at least 130 countries expected to arrive in the Malaysian capital (the previous event, in Istanbul in 2008, attracted only 4,000 delegates), the logistics of transferring and accommodating so many people were a huge challenge; another key point was maintaining a personal touch.
The MIA decided in advance to issue many of its invitations to fellow accounting bodies in person. "We didn't want to rely on coloured brochures," explains president Abdul Rahim Abdul Hamid. "We decided we would meet as many people as possible face to face. We wanted them to have the feel of the face behind the organisation."
As a priority, the organisers wanted to use sustainable practices where possible and to create an itinerary that would showcase Malaysia itself.
More than 100 participants took part in the 'WCOA 2010 Golf Challenge' on the day prior to the convention, before a speakers' cocktail reception in the evening.
The congress programme itself was opened the following day by a representative for the Malaysian Prime Minister, and featured a performance by dancers from the national theatre. Around 150 speakers contributed to the programme over the three days, which focused on the latest developments in international accounting and auditing standards.
The event's organisers had wanted to support the Malaysia Convention & Visitor's Bureau's Business Tourism Green Programme to offset the event's carbon footprint, and did so by planting 600 trees. Re-usable water bottles were also given out to delegates during the event, saving 50,000 plastic bottles.
At the close of the event, the gala gathering saw the centre's exhibition halls transformed into four attractions to reflect Malaysia's multiculturalism - a Malay kampong (village), Chinatown, Little India and a Borneo village. Entertainment included traditional games, a lion dance, opera and a tribal nose-flute player.
"It was an extreme success," says Laura Wilker, deputy director, head of communications at the IFAC. "Attendance exceeded even our high expectations and, importantly, we felt that the MIA and its partners did an outstanding job at making the event memorable."
Organisation: World Congress of Accountants
Event: Global congress
Group size: 6,054 from 134 countries
PCO: AOS Convention Services
Date: 8-11 November 2010
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
November 2005: Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre submits a proposal for bidding
September 2009: Final contract signed to confirm KLCC as host venue
7 November 2010: Registration begins at the convention centre.