I'd started to work more closely with the team at Zibrant through the thought leadership group, the Healthcare Meetings Forum. I'd decided at the beginning of last year to move on from my previous organisation [Contendam]. Zibrant had been looking to extend further into the associations market over the past three to four years so it seemed a natural fit. We had a lot of commonality and things just seemed to align. Even though I was joining a new organisation it's a company I've known in various guises since the early '90s, so in a sense it seemed a natural progression.
How big is the new association services team?
We have a dedicated team of eight association experts spread across the various Zibrant offices. Though in a sense we are new, we are integrated within a well-established company that has been around for over 25 years, so we are able to use the resources and expertise from other areas of the business to deliver so many of the services associations are now looking for in-house, without having to use third parties.
What associations are you working with?
We have been working with the Association of Anaesthetists for Great Britain and Ireland, providing some technology solutions, managing registration and providing speaker support for the World Airway Management Meeting (WAMM 2015) in Dublin in November. We will manage our first delivery event – the Annual Meeting of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland – in Sheffield on 26-27 March, supporting them with association management services as well as meetings and logistics. After that, our next big event is with the International Spinal Cord Society for around 1,000 delegates in Montreal in May. We've also been supporting The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which is hosting a big event in London in July.
What are your ambitions for the division?
We want to grow, we want to make a profit, but we don't have anything rigid like 'we want to be a million-pound revenue division within 3-4 years'. Yes, it would be nice, but no-one is going to come and flog me if we're not. I think our ambitions are very much aligned to how Zibrant as a company operates – it is client first. Like the other brands within Zibrant, we are looking to cement client relationships and hopefully form long-term bonds with those clients that will then allow us to add greatest value through a partnership approach.
What has the industry reaction been to the new division?
It has been really interesting. From a stakeholder side, so destinations and venues, it has been incredibly well-received. I would say 95% of them have been really excited to have a new offering out there in the association marketplace. On the PCO side it has been a mixture. Some have been very embracing and think it is great for the strength of the sector. There has been quite a lot of change in the PCO environment over the past year or two, so some have seen it as a great way to build the sector and create enough opportunity for all of us.
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