Editor's Blog

Take a punt on Paris 2024

“I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t dream of taking our convention to a city while the Olympics were on.”

I am in Paris for the launch of the new Paris Convention Centre, caught in the middle of a conversation over dinner between an association event organiser and a Parisian hotel sales.

The man from the hotel is singing the praises of the Olympics, which have just been confirmed to take place in Paris in 2024. The woman from the association is less convinced, and makes her feelings known with the comment above.

I can see her point. Organising an annual congress, in this case a mid-sized event for 7,000 to 10,000 delegates, is tough enough at the best of times, so to try to do it at the same time as when the world’s biggest sporting carnival is in town doesn’t bear thinking about. What will the Olympics mean for hotel availability, prices, transfer times, security… the list goes on and on.

And yet. I was living in London during the 2012 Olympics, and I think back to the atmosphere that the Olympics engendered. The positivity in the air, the friendliness all around, the wonderful feeling of togetherness and spirit of adventure that gripped the city for the duration of the Games.

I was there at Hampton Court Palace to see the torch as it passed by barge, held aloft by Sir Matthew Pinsent. I remember watching the opening ceremony with a group of friends, and the gasps of amazement as the Queen parachuted into the stadium with James Bond (pictured). I was there in Hyde Park when the Brownlee brothers stormed the triathlon. And I even made it into the Olympic stadium for one amazing night, the pinnacle of an unforgettable summer.

These are things that have stayed with me and will do so for years to come. So if you have the chance to associate your annual congress with an event that can create such long-lasting memories and good feeling, wouldn’t you do it? It would make your life a bit harder, sure, but where’s the fun in always taking the easiest option?

I expressed these views to my association friend. She listened politely, but didn’t seem convinced. I can’t blame her; after all, she’s the one that would have to organise the darn thing, not me. But for any planners out there who like taking a risk, I’m just saying; Paris 2024 will be worth a shot.

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  • John Fisher 30/11/2017 Of: FMI

    Paris is one of my favorite cities to visit...as an individual. But professional event organizers are doing a job that involves offering best advice for a commercial group in return for a fee.If you are paying for advice, why would you ignore it? Almost all event managers would not take a large corporate group to an Olympic city while the Games are on, unless you were buying into the official packages. Virtually all the ground services will be priced at a premium and some may even be non-existent to non-Olympic buyers. It just does not make good business sense to compete for space and service during the Olympics. It simply won't fly.
    You should listen to your association friend. She is right.