Anthony Parkes, Director, ICC World Chambers Federation talks about the importance of collaboration in the life-cycle of conference organisation

Interviewed by Rochelle Uechtritz 

“How AEG Convention Centres collaborate with our member chambers in their various cities around the world reinforces its commitment to the importance of conferences and congresses to local economic development, job creation and tourism.

We share a natural partnership with AEG and from a World Chambers Federation perspective, I look forward to even greater and broader collaborative opportunities beyond the congress.”   Anthony Parkes, Director, ICC World Chambers Federation 

Tell us a little about ICC World Chambers Federation?

Chambers have been around for hundreds of years, but my organisation is still young in “chamber years”.

The World Chambers Federation (WCF) is the unique and most truly global body uniting the entire network of more than 12,000 local, regional, national, bilateral and transnational chambers from every country, region and territory the world over. WCF facilitates the exchange of best practice and fosters the development of new global products and services for chambers; as well as fostering international partnerships between chambers and other stakeholders, in helping their local businesses grow.

WCF is one of the pillars of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organisation which represents enterprises from all sectors in every part of the world. The fundamental mission of ICC is to promote trade and investment across frontiers and help businesses meet challenges and opportunities of globalisation.

Share an insight into your career journey

I’ve always been engaged in a client services role; from my retail, education and hospitality background into being employed at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) in the 1990s where I was responsible for many of our trade and commercial products and service lines.

In looking at future developments beyond our borders, I received support from the Winston Churchill Fellowship in 1998 to explore best practices of chambers in Europe. Whilst there I was invited by ICC to join the WCF team to help strengthen the chambers; the inaugural World Chambers Congress 1999 being one of my first projects.

How would you describe the ideal congress?

“An ideal congress brings together the local flavour of a city and nation, with its government and business community building new bonds and opportunities between them, as well as, business leaders and representatives from over 100 nations.”

Our local stakeholders benefit greatly from the richness of the event. It is different to other congresses as the role of chambers is quite unique. The initial impressions of a city and nation, its economic opportunities, revealed in a broader setting, often sees longer term relationships formed, built by this first taste, opening-up new connections and business ties that last beyond the one week our event is held in a city.

“It is wonderful to hear after the congress on continuing collaborations between chambers and their businesses from such differing parts of the world. Our event leaves a legacy and an opportunity to a destination/chamber to make a difference in their communities’ future.”

How do you define the ideal location candidates for future conferences?

Our jury in selecting the destination and venue is our WCF General Council made up of 50 chamber leaders from around the world. Their decision is based on the following criteria:

  • Destination and quality of venue rank strongly in their assessment of the bid, which is led by our local chamber of commerce member, working in partnership with the event industry
  • Ease of accessibility, an openness and connectivity of the destination to the world for our member nations is very important; as is the modernity and technical capabilities of the venue
  • The strength of economic opportunities
  • A location and destination which offers a delegate a range of great local cultural experiences and memorable moments
  • Safety and security is a growing concern

From Asia Pacific to the Middle East to The Americas, describe your interaction with AEG Global Convention Centre network?

The AEG global network has been a great advantage for World Chambers Federation and the Congress.

From our first contact with AEG Convention Centres around the world, its representatives have clearly done their homework by talking with their peers in other centres which have held our event, and understand our operations and our meetings’ needs.

“It saves a lot of time not having to explain the event when the Centre comes in and reveals how our event will fit with their venue and what they can do for you!”

Can you share your experience working with AEG’s Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre?

The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) experience has been one of the highlights in my congress history and certainly that of my team. KLCC’s team were there from the preparation of the terrain with our local chamber, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) ensuring their readiness in bidding for the 6th World Chambers Congress.

KLCC’s team joined FMM at congresses prior to the bid, to understand the event and its operations as well as to understand delegates expectations. In the selection of the host, KLCC’s team remained committed and engaged partners with FMM as members of the local organisation committee to ensure their readiness and understanding of our event to its finest detail.

“During the event itself, nothing was too difficult for the KLCC team ensuring my team were taken care of. It was the personal touch, and sincerity, that made such a difference to our experience.”

Describe the importance of long-term relationship you have with AEG Convention Centres?

With an established track record of being hosted within the AEG Convention Centre family, there is a sense of comfort that you experience. The newest centre knows they have big shoes to fill following the past AEG locations which have helped us implement a successful event. For example, ICC Sydney’s team strive even harder to build upon the AEG reputation and brand as they serve us.

“With the unique role chambers play in their various cities around the world, and their own organisation of events, noting the standard of AEG as hosting the global chamber ‘family reunion’ makes everyone more conscious of the little things that help make an event go smoother, particularly behind the scenes.”

Can you expand on your impressions of the new ICC Sydney?

The decision to host 10th World Chambers Congress in Sydney was taken three years prior to the completion of ICC Sydney. A pro-active partnership and relationship initiated by both ICC Sydney and Business Events Sydney gave us the utmost confidence the Centre would be finished on time.

I was familiar with the previous Sydney venue however I am impressed with the all new ICC Sydney with its sophisticated design it allows for various events to take place simultaneously, plus retaining the natural light and beauty of the Darling Harbour area, visible to participants as they move in and out of meeting rooms, they will feel part of the city and not ‘cut off’ from the world.

ICC Sydney’s technology set up is great and offers new ideas for what we can do with our education content and delivery. Its location within walking distance to hotels and the CBD is ideal.

What do you believe are the greatest challenges for global associations today and in the future?

Accessibility, inclusiveness and connectivity are the key things that remain important for a global association such as ours.

With a shared “chamber” brand connecting such an expanse of chambers from so many communities, from the most remote island to a thriving city, it’s ensuring that all members feel connected and informed on the issues that will make a difference to the way they operate and how they remain relevant to their business community, and within their society.

Three Top Tips for future conference site selections;

  • Having clear bidding guidelines and benchmarks on your event is essential to help convention locations and venues determine whether their destination is right for your event
  • Do whatever is possible to help the event industry understand your event, its mission and demographic (as not all events and delegates have the same capacities as others)
  • Your event strategy and operations should always be readily available, and reviewed following each event, to ensure it’s up to date for your next destination and host, allowing them to give you their best


For more information, image requests or media interviews, please connect with: 

Rochelle Uechtritz, Director, International Market Development AEG Convention Centres 

P + 61 400 253 392 


11th July 2017