• 24 July, 2013

    The 11th APCE Congress highlights the keys to Spain’s leading international position

    The 11th Spanish Association of Conference Centres (APCE) Congress, held on 17th and 18th July at the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall in Bilbao, and entitled “A time of challenges and opportunities”, marked the end of a cycle of almost 15 years in which the APCE has promoted meetings between the managers of the major Spanish conference centres to create a forum for innovation, internationalisation and the development of new trends in the meeting tourism industry.
The APCE Congress has gained itself a solid reputation as a meeting point for event tourism in Spain. The high level of participation of the Spanish Association of Conference Centre’s members gives the venues’ directors, sales and technical managers a first-hand insight into the latest developments in technology, security, sustainability and building management thanks to the participation of renowned speakers.
In its eleven congresses, including the 2013 event which brought together 60 participants from 30 different centres, the APCE has congregated over 700 participants.
The 2013 Congress was opened by the President of the Biscay Provincial Council, José Luis Bilbao. This was followed by the opening conference which was given by Juan Ignacio Vidarte, Director General of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, who explained the role of the venue in transforming its environment and the special features of its management model.
Other guest speakers included Andoni Oleagordia and Pedro Izaga, the Security Area Director and Deputy Civil Defence Director respectively of the Bilbao City Council, who discussed comprehensive security, self-protection plans and occupational health and safety in their speeches. In turn, Alfonso Vegara, the Chairman of the Metrópoli Foundation and former Chairman of the International Society of City and Regional Planners, focused on the internationalisation and positioning of cities, the appearance of new territorial structures as the driving forces behind the world economy, and how the challenges of sustainability, cohesion and competitiveness cannot be tackled from a traditional regionalistic viewpoint. 
The last of the plenary sessions, entitled “Pointers for the future: universal accessibility, sustainability and technological evolution of congresses”, was given by José Fernando García, Accessibility Manager at Ceis; Blas Beristain, Building Sustainability Manager at IDOM Ingeniería; and Aitor Markaida, Business Division Director at Euskaltel S.A.
The programme was completed as usual with a wide range of technical and sales forums to broaden the congress participants’ specific know-how. 
The technical area featured the subject “Event rigging for indoor venues: in-house and external equipment”, which was given by Cayetano Álvarez, the Technical Sales Manager of ThyssenKrupp Elevator’s Special Lines Division; whilst the sales forums were given by Ana Andueza, a partner in the Public Sector Department at Deloitte, and by Tomás Calleja, former Director General of Corporate Development at Iberdrola, who spoke about “Conference centre profitability: classifying events. Economic impact” and “Sales management and marketing in times of recession. Low cost: opportunity or threat?”, respectively.
During the event, the Association presented the new updated edition of the APCE Members’ Directory, and the promotional material that will be used at the world’s major fairs to promote Spanish conference centres. The APCE has also developed two apps for the leading smartphone platforms, IOS and Android, to provide users with information about the member venues. The first of these two platforms, under the Apple brand, is used by popular devices such as iPhone, iPad and iPod, whilst the second platform covers the vast majority of the remaining companies with a huge selection of telephones and tablets that run on an operating system created by Google.
Another of the promotional and marketing tools developed by the Association is the APCE Award. The Congress’s traditional gala dinner, which this year was held in the Euskalduna Centre’s Etxanobe Restaurant, was the occasion chosen to award the accolade to the Spanish Urology Association (AEU), represented by Dr. Miguel Unda Urzaiz, the National Coordinator of the AEU’s Uro-Oncology Group. The award was given in recognition of the AEU’s repeated endorsement and use of the APCE’s member centres to hold its events.
In the words of the APCE Chairman and CEO of the Valencia Conference Centre, José Salinas, “the congress strengthens the leading position of Spanish conference centres in the domestic event tourism industry, and especially in the international market, increases their excellent technological know-how and commitment to sustainability, as well as the high degree of competitiveness and efficiency in the changing global market”.
About the APCE
The Spanish Association of Conference Centres brings together the most important congress centres in Spain, which play an essential role as a driving force behind local development. The APCE’s objectives include defending the collective interests of its members in their dealings with industry peers and with the relevant authorities, as well as the exchange of ideas and experiences in event tourism issues.
€1.5 billion were invested to build these centres and they have become important players in the urban transformation of the cities they are located in. In 2012 alone, member centres hosted 4,647 events and welcomed 4,064,048 visitors which helped to generate an economic impact for their cities of around €1.3 billion. 
Since 2003 when the APCE held its first congress, its member centres have welcomed over 42 million people to their facilities which have held a total of 55,000 events, of which 5,200 were congresses and almost 3,750 were conventions, with 4.8 million and 2.3 million delegates respectively.