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St. Louis-based IACC continues to market to and educate meeting planners on what IACC properties actually are. It has been aggressive in initiating and expanding programs aimed at maintaining quality and best practices—notably in sustainability and technology—and in positioning to expand overseas.

Of its 300-plus member centers, almost 200 are in North America and more than 80 are in Europe. Since 1981 it has been promoting its conference center model, one designed to maximize the productivity of smaller meetings. 

"It is a never-ending job," says Tom Bolman, IACC executive vice president. "There are so many part-time planners now. There are lots of misconceptions. It’s a continual challenge. With an IACC conference center you get a self-contained, distraction-free environment that you don’t get at a hotel."

Neil Pompan, IACC global president, compares buying a meeting at an IACC conference center with buying a car.

"You don’t buy a kit and assemble the car yourself," he says. "With a hotel you have to buy all the components—rooms, food, recreation, meeting support. With an IACC conference center you buy the total meeting experience."

Moving Ahead 
The organization has taken steps to restructure. Planning for expansion in Latin America, last fall it changed the name of IACC North America to IACC Americas. Last August it held its second annual European conference, with the theme "Navigating the Perfect Storm."

"We’re seeing membership growth, particularly in Europe, and there has been interest from Mexico and South America," Pompan says. "We need to be more inclusive. We’re consolidating chapters around the world. It is more cost-effective. We’ll have three primary areas: the Americas, Europe and Asia/Pacific."

During the first quarter of this year, IACC is holding roundtables in 16 North America cities designed to gather information on what planners require so IACC can better focus on what’s important. Sustainability will be among the roundtable focuses.

The results will be presented at IACC’s 2010 annual summit, titled "Not Business as Usual," at the Eaglewood Resort & Spa near Chicago in late March.