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AIPC OPINION Ten quality commandments U niversally recognised quality standards are going to play a growing role for convention centres in a future where increasing globalisation and rising client expectations create a need for a more reliable means of assessing what they can expect from a facility. At the same time, such standards will provide qualified centres with a way to demonstrate their accomplishments to a discriminating market. Centres have typically developed in relative isolation, with few cities having more than a single major facility. This has meant that, for a long time, no universally accepted accreditation has existed. Now, we are seeing more efforts to develop such standards, driven in many cases by client concerns as to what they can expect in facilities and destinations that are new in the market, and in other cases by a more metrics- driven approach to site selection, often by third- party planners who need measurables for recommendations. Some centres have used credentials that were essentially adapted from other areas, such as hospitality or manufacturing, but these generally failed to really reflect the kinds of performance important to the management of a centre. At the same time, there were credentials developed in particular countries or regions, but these lacked the universality required by clients who were regularly looking for venues worldwide because of their event rotation. AIPC undertook the task of developing quality standards specific to convention centres. The standards had to meet a number of tests, including a need to be flexible and adaptable to a wide variety of facility types, ages and configurations. They also had to be seen from a client perspective so they were relevant to the market and to be ' graduated' in order to give participating centres a way forward in addressing any performance issues still in the process of being addressed. Finally, they needed to be seen as having been developed by an arms- length body like AIPC, using an external auditor, in order to maintain their credibility. The standards have now been developed and address 10 key areas of centre management: Customer Service, Quality of Facilities and Operations, Employee Relations, Health, Safety, Security and Emergency Response, Financial Integrity, Community Relations, Environmental Responsibility, Industry Relations and Supplier Relations. The qualification process is one in which centres must demonstrate that measurable policies are in place for each area in a form that can be reviewed and assessed by an external auditor. Our challenge at AIPC now is to facilitate as many members as possible to achieve this distinction. We realise it's another demand on managers who are already very busy with meeting client expectations. However, it is a way for centres to distinguish themselves for their performance in a way that will be increasingly recognised in today's competitive market. Client expectations are driving demand for quality standards, says AIPC president Edgar Hirt. BT Convention Centre, host venue for the 2010 AIPC Congress Edgar Hirt is president of the International Association of Congress Centres and managing director of CCH, Congress Center Hamburg. AIPC is a global network of over 165 centres in 53 countries. Visit www. aipr. org 14Conference+ Meetings WorldMay 2010 www. c- mw. net

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