(Left to right) Nigel Gaunt, president, ICESAP, shakes hands with PCMA Chief Operating Officer Sherrif Karamat, while Claire Smith, chair-elect, PCMA Board of Directors, looks on. They are joined by (standing) Philip Pang, marketing & membership manager, ICESAP, and Michelle Crowley, PCMA’s senior director of global strategy.
Earlier this year, PCMA unveiled a new mission statement at its flagship event, Convening Leaders: “Through education, PCMA inspires, connects, and innovates the business events community globally.” Now, the “globally” portion of that objective is stepping into the spotlight. Today, the organization announced that it is purchasing Singapore-based Incentive, Conference & Event Society Asia Pacific (ICESAP), a move that will accelerate PCMA’s access to the APAC market and create opportunities for a more diverse exchange of ideas among PCMA’s existing members and business-event professionals in the APAC region.
“Today, PCMA already has strong and valued relationships with prominent organizations in the APAC region,” said Deborah Sexton, PCMA President and CEO. “The addition of ICESAP further strengthens our endeavors to enable industry collaboration and deliver superior education to this important region. ICESAP builds upon PCMA’s cornerstone of education and aligns perfectly with PCMA through multiple platforms for accreditation and certification.”
The APAC meetings and events market is worth approximately $200 billion, and that valuation will likely increase. American Express’ 2017 Global Meetings and Events Forecast predicts an 11.5-percent increase in conferences this year in the APAC region. “Asia Pacific has the fastest-growing set of economies in the world, and this looks like it’s set to continue for some time to come,” Nigel Gaunt, ICESAP president, told PCMA via email. “Incentive travel, conferences, meetings, and business events have as a result all grown in scale and sophistication, both as a result of economic factors and social change in many emerging markets.
“ICESAP is a new style of professional body, and our flexibility and innovation is what has driven our success thus far,” Gaunt continued. “It is now time to consolidate our position and capitalize on our innovation in areas such as agency accreditation. PCMA is the perfect organization to turn this into reality given its depth and expertise.”
Building A Powerful APAC Brand
ICESAP has been on a fast track to success since Gaunt founded the organization in 2013. After owning two successful agencies, The Forum Organisation and The Mint Organisation, which he sold respectively to Carlson Marketing in 1990 and BI Worldwide in 2012, Gaunt said that he “wanted to give something back to an industry I have enjoyed and benefitted from over 30 years.”
“I identified that there was no professional body in Asia Pacific that embraced customers as members,” Gaunt said, “but the existing members of other bodies were crying out for customer engagement.”
The organization has delivered on that promise of engagement for event organizers with a highly regarded five-module certification program for event professionals and a recently launched Agency Accreditation Scheme that supports industry professionalism. Suppliers have also benefited from ICESAP’s efforts. Wee Min Ong, executive director of sales at Marina Bay Sands, said that his venue works closely with ICESAP. “ICESAP is the fastest-growing community of incentive and corporate meeting professionals in APAC,” Ong told PCMA. “ICESAP’s strength lies in its corporate meeting professional networks, and this complements PCMA’s current partners in Asia.”
This is the first chapter of the PCMA-ICESAP story, and the future looks very bright. As the middle class continues to grow and more professionals search for knowledge and connections at face-to-face events, PCMA will lead the way forward. “It is early in the PCMA-ICESAP relationship,” Gaunt said. “However, I am of the strong belief that ICESAP can provide PCMA members with access to the economies of Asia Pacific in the same way PCMA members can help educate and add professionalism to the region.”