A Vibrant Membership Makes a Prosperous Association

Marta Gomes, ICCA President and Deputy Executive Director Sales Division at VIPARIS. ICCA is the International Congress and Convention Association comprised whose membership comprises of destinations, venues and other service providers for association meetings.

Skift Take

Newly elected ICCA president Marta Gomes shares her ambitious plans for connecting ICCA's global membership. She seeks to inspire and drive forward a vibrant community of association meeting professionals.

This episode of the Event Manager Podcast features Marta Gomes, ICCA president and deputy executive director sales division at VIPARIS. In a candid conversation she shares her impressive career history, her plans for her presidency of ICCA and connecting with the entire membership and how she wants to inspire future meeting professionals.

With her heart set on a diplomatic career, she moved from her home country of Portugal to Paris, France, set on improving her French. During this time she interned for the Portuguese Bureau for Promotion of Commerce, and hosted events promoting Portuguese products. Gomes has since spent 20 years working in various roles within convention centers and promoting Paris as a destination. 

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VIPARIS launched in 2008 and was the merger of two organizations which managed conference and exhibition centers in Paris. The company now manages ten different venues across the city with varying capacities. The merger has allowed Paris to become stronger as a destination in the international market. The business focus of VIPARIS makes it ideal to host some of the most iconic Parisian shows.

Gomes has big plans for her presidency of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). However, she understands some of the challenges that global associations such as ICCA face. One of the main challenges is how to connect with the stakeholders and communities at a local level. Therefore, Gomes believes that all stakeholder need to be part of the conversations and actively seek to develop these relationships. Ultimately we are more successful when we work together. 

As ICCA President, Gomes is looking to building a better future for the industry. She firmly believes we shouldn’t just go back to doing things the way we were before the Covid pandemic.

One of the ways Gomes is looking to the future is by innovating ICCA’s membership model. This is one of the core projects she is taking on looking to continue to improve the ICCA experience.

Gomes’ number one goal is to have ICCA members engage within the community. This is something that understandably dropped off during Covid pandemic as members focused on keeping their business afloat. To achieve this Gomes plans to allocate more resources to their regions and chapters. She sees these as the ideal places for people to network and have their first contact with the association.

Whilst ICCAs members are companies, behind those companies are people. Gomes believe that when people connect associations thrive. She’d also like to find a way to quantifiably measure engagement and compare these across time periods.

One of the challenges Gomes feels the meetings industry is facing is around talent and HR. Recruitment, retention and upskilling staff cannot be neglected if it is to attract future talent. The many job losses and furloughs during the Covid pandemic have sent worrying signs to aspiring meeting professionals. In order to tackle this she believes it is important to partner with universities and education providers in order to reach those young people. Gomes believes that the meetings industry is incredibly rewarding as it uniquely allows you to be part of important conversations and developments. 

Hear more about VIPARIS, Gomes’ plans for ICCA and her advice to the next generation, head to your favorite podcasts service.

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