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When Working With Competitors Works


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A consortium of major European event venues has challenged convention by working together while still competing with one another.

“There’s safety in numbers” is an adage we all recognise, yet in the business world, many competing businesses see no other way but to go it alone. In Europe’s dynamic business events sector, however, a consortium of major venues has challenged convention by working together while still competing with one another. They operate under the banner Leading Centres of Europe (LCE) and this year they’re celebrating 10 years of success.

Members of the consortium came together to meet the demands of global conference organisers who, due to increasing time and budget constraints, are unable to visit more than one or two venues when considering where to host events. The simple message from LCE of Europe could be described as “If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you.”

Venues in the collective include RAI Amsterdam, Barcelona’s CCIB, Geneva’s Palexpo, Glasgow’s SEC, Lisbon Congress Centre, Milan’s MiCo, Munich’s ICM, Paris’ Viparis, Stockholm’s Stockholmsmässan, and Austria Centre Vienna. The common traits the venues share are the respect and friendships developed over 10 years, as well as shared values, knowledge, and expertise. Each has a proven track record of delivering major meetings of scale and complexity.

The group uses the “power of the collective” to take venues’ offerings to potential clients. They host collaborative events in central locations where large numbers of event organisers in key target sectors are within easy reach.

Maurits van der Sluis, chairman of LCE and chief operating officer of RAI Amsterdam, said: “Our aim has always been to work collectively to forge greater relationships with our conference clients around the world through informal networking and educational events. We are likeminded in our ambitions and will continue to share views and knowledge of our excellence in the meetings industry.”

For some, this may be a difficult business model to comprehend: Why help your competitors secure meetings and win business you could have had? But after 10 years, the members of LCE have learned that sharing can be mutually beneficial. “We’ve learned that sharing and collaboration leads to more than competing with each other,” said Anette Palm, director, Worldwide Convention Specialists. “It leads to the realisation that, while you are competitors, you have more in common than you think. By being respectful, completely transparent, and by adhering to regulations and rules, we have achieved more and reached more together than we could have on our own.”

Another venue consortium that has seen success for more than a decade is London City Selection and consists of up to 30 London-based venues. As well as being a platform for networking, the consortium meets quarterly to share knowledge and experience. Additionally, collaborative platforms such as IACC are well established in the industry.

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