EAS 2021 legacy

European Association Summit 2021: a win-win legacy

The latest edition of the European Association Summit embarked over 250 participants into a virtual journey through Brussels and the latest for association professionals around the world. During the 9th edition of the event, held on 20-22 April 2021, over 40 experts shared their knowledge and exchange views with the audience.

A new format for the event

The European Association Summit is the annual event gathering the association community in the world’s international associations capital, Brussels. Organised since 2013, the conference has been a frontrunner of educational activities for association professionals. The event has proved its ability to adapt with the times and the 2021 edition has gone fully virtual.

The event started with an opening and networking session on 20 April, allowing participants to become more familiar with the Swapcard platform, hosting the event, and receiving the welcome words from the event moderator and the organisation team right from the rooftop space of a new hotel, opening its premises in spring 2021 in Brussels.

On 21 and 22 April the Summit gathered attendees around four thematic tracks:  

  • Business and strategy
  • Public affairs,
  • Events
  • Communication and Membership. 

The content and speakers’ line-up curated by MCI Logos allowed to build a programme with a smart mix of case studies, discussion panels, demo sessions and lab style workshops. Four sessions were held in parallel, with one for each theme, and one plenary session focused on trends in education took place on each day.

Between the sessions the attendees could enjoy a showcase of Brussels images, and live music performances thanks to on-site performances. Energising breaks gave the opportunity to learn how to do smoothies, cocktails or yoga stretching exercises.  


The Future is NOW

Live from Brussels with a global outreach, the event featured speakers representing associations, events, and communications professionals. With the main theme “The Future is NOW”, these experts shared valuable insights on associations organisation as well as on upcoming initiatives relevant to finance, EU affairs or digital trends.

An interesting story could be drawn from the observations shared about the overall picture of events evolution from last year into the practicalities of organising events in digital and future hybrid circumstances. The impact on the governance from the management perspective relative to staff, membership, communications, and legal aspects has kept long conversations among speakers and attendees.

The policy-making matters in the European Union context, related to the New Green Deal, various EU funds, as well as the involvement of companies which are members of associations into new alliances and networks has also provided new perspectives on how associations may embrace changes in Europe.  

The ability of the associations’ sector to adapt and lead the way to tackle new challenges has been also recognised by Elisabeth Van Ingelgem, Director of the Strategy and International Department at visit.brussels in its closing speech. “The associations’ sector has shown a strong resilience in the last year and a great networking efficiency for putting ideas into practice for its own sector and for each of the domains that associations represent. It also provides a great inspiration for cooperation for destinations and businesses that we wished to highlight at our yearly conference.” A brighter future thanks to the energy sparking from the speakers and attendees at the EAS coming out from the lessons learnt from peers and experts present at the event.

A legacy for the destination management organisation

As the home of more than 2,400 international associations, the Brussels-Capital Region has developed services to guide international associations through establishing headquarters and community development. Those services are led by a dedicated team within visit.brussels.

The European Association Summit has been going through a continuous evolution over its all editions and the move into a different way for organising meetings, due to pandemic circumstances, has been a trend to be followed.

From the perspective of a DMO, the event has brought an opportunity to strengthen the cooperation among all the teams within visit.brussels and develop new capacities for the organisation of digital events. New expertise has been acquired not only from the event management side, but also from the perspective of public procurement, audience metrics and engagement, technology knowledge, cooperation with new local partners and onboarding processes for new team members. Learning outcomes that shall remain and reinforce the expertise in events development.

The next edition of the European Association Summit shall be held in 2022 in Brussels. A 10th anniversary edition that will surely bring an opportunity to meet again for all the association community.