INTA Annual Meetings past, present and future
You don’t spend 15 years as Executive Director of INTA without being able to be diplomatic – and Alan Drewsen is suitably so when asked about his favorite Annual Meeting city
“I don’t want to slight anybody,” he says. But he adds that he likes San Diego as a city, and it is a popular destination – INTA has two more meetings planned there in the next 12 years. “I also very much liked the Berlin Annual Meeting – the Convention Center was far from the hotels but getting access on the underground worked very well. It’s a fascinating city. Chicago was great, and Seattle is one of the most popular ones because it’s a little more compact and easier to do business.”
Last year’s Annual Meeting in Washington DC set a new record, with some 9,600 attendees and Drewsen says this year’s has been running at the same level for pre-registrations. But he believes next year’s, in Hong Kong, could be even bigger: “I think the Hong Kong meeting will be the largest one, absolutely. There may be a different mix – more people from Asia, fewer from the United States – but everybody we talk to in Asia is very excited.” Looking ahead, he predicts that the Annual Meeting could certainly grow to be 12,000 to 13,000 people within the next few years.
With the Annual Meeting continuing to expand, isn’t there a risk that that’s all INTA becomes known for, and the rest of its work is overshadowed? Drewsen rejects this, saying the volunteer participation is “significant” with thousands of individuals putting their names forward for committee selection: “For some people the Annual Meeting is their only interaction with INTA and some of them don’t recognize the other benefits of the association. But maybe somebody in their firm does. I don’t consider that to be a drawback.”
He also denies that the presence of so-called “in-connection-with” people are a threat. These are those who don’t register for the Annual Meeting, but visit the host city to take advantage of meetings and networking opportunities. Drewsen says he would love it if they all registered, but that in some cases they are only visiting briefly, don’t need to collect CLE points and have colleagues who are registered. “The main point is I’d like to know how many it is because it would have an impact on our negotiations with future sites: the number of room nights and overall contribution to the economy of the home city.”