We have just produced our hundredth edition of Meetings International. It is hardly a world record for a publication from a global perspective, but for us, that is precisely what it is. Over the years, together with my co-workers, I have produced a further 300 magazines, but they were not Meetings International. It grew from an idea I had along with my wife Atti Soenarso, legally responsible editor-in-chief. We aimed to produce a ground-breaking magazine for the business events industry, the likes of which had never been seen before.
A concept that revolved around the question: what is the meetings and events industry seen through the eyes of the individuals involved? What part do they play in progressing the industry from a broader perspective? Our curiosity in the possibilities afforded by business intelligence coincided with the start of the EIBTM trade show in Geneva, Switzerland in 1989, the show that eventually became IMEX Frankfurt. The show in Barcelona, today known as IBTM World, we have been a part of since it began in 2004. We have always regarded trade shows as ideal places for networking and knowledge sharing, and we have always prioritised them.
Likewise, we have found it vitally important to be a member of global organisations in the areas we cover. First, it was MPI, Site and ICCA. I brought MPI to Sweden in 1994. I was on the board for 17 years and also took part in international work. To broaden the perspective even further, we have learnt a great deal from people in organisations like UIA, AIPC, IAPCO, ASAE, GBTA, UFI, INCON, PCMA, ECM, IACC, Best Cities, JMIC and GMIC, with apologies to any I have forgotten. But what a journey we have been on. A trip that is still providing new insights.
Admittedly, the first issue of our international edition did not come until 2008, but without the first twenty years of travelling the world knowledge sharing and networking, there would not have been a Meetings International at all.
We have now done 75 magazines in Swedish and 25 global editions. Besides, we have also done destination reports from several countries and cities along with Business Intelligence Reports, fourteen to be concise. The reports would not have been possible without the networks we are a part of and the meetings venues we have visited over the years. So, where do we go from here?
Knowledge always requires a top-up, networks need to be developed and broadened. Here are no strikes, dark clouds or Covid-19 to put a spanner in the works. Also, unexpected obstacles cause us to think in new ways, to find new routes, such as increased digitalisation, for example. But the significance of the personal meeting can never be replaced by a digital meeting. Never.
Which is why we have just started planning for the next 10,000 pages brim full of new knowledge and insights. We are planning further meetings with interesting people in destinations the world over. People who contribute in various ways of creating a better life for their fellow human beings. There are plenty of great stories just waiting to be plucked and passed on to a readership. We are always curious about what we have missed. Or, as a philosopher may once have mused: the more we find, the more there is to find.