The Agile Alliance

We are proud to share Episode 11 of #talkswithjane featuring Kit Lykketoft! Jane Cunningham, our director of community engagement, has been producing short conversations with members of the conference world over the past year. They are delightful glimpses into people’s lives and always give us a fresh perspective.

In this episode of #talkswithjane, Jane Cunningham interviews Kit Lykketoft, our new Chair of the BestCities Board and Director of Convention at Wonderful Copenhagen. This was a great episode to gain a deeper understanding about the alliance – from how BestCities started in a bar, to what Kit has planned during her time leading the board, to how the partners challenge each other and share insights to push boundaries. You can watch the interview here or read what they chatted about below.

Jane: [00:00:00] Hi Kit, thank you very much for joining me today and welcome as the new chair of the BestCities board. Thank you now, today we’re talking about the Agile Alliance. So, I would like you to, first of all, just kick off. BestCities started back in 2000. Can you give us a little bit of an insight to the journey?

Kit: [00:00:22] Right, as with so many good things, I’ve been told that the Alliance was founded in a bar and the rest is history. No, we have shifted the purpose of the alliance quite significantly over the years. We have shifted from solely being one of service orientation to a more purpose driven value by creating positive impact through business events. So, we still of course deliver excellent service, but it’s now a given and the complexity of the industry and the society as such called for so much more than that. We are not the only ones to deliver excellence. So, our focus is very much on the power that lies in the community and on being thought leaders showing the way forward.

Jane: [00:01:13] Yeah, absolutely. Now Copenhagen have been in it right from the start. I think it was someone in the bureau that was in that bar back in 2006. Can you share some of the benefits from the partner side, so the destination side, but also for the meeting owners that are part of our whole community?

Kit: [00:01:31] Right. The greatest benefit to the destination, and this is actually also a benefit to the meeting owners, is the knowledge sharing and the deep education that flourishes in the alliance because you have trusted partners. We have a mutual goal of delivering the best business events for the benefit of the clients and our own destinations. We can challenge each other and share insights to push boundaries, so we all strive to be thought leaders because we have each other to lean on and access to so much insights across the globe. So, I think the benefits are invaluable.

Jane: [00:02:12] Well, I mean, the great thing is we are now in year five of our Incredible Impacts program, and that aligns very much with our purpose of community and delivering the best business events in our destination that have a lasting impact. And this year we received, we had a cutoff of the 1st of June, we received 27 submissions, which is the most we’ve ever had across the five years. And we’re just going through them all now, it’s absolutely wonderful stories of impact. Can you share why this adds value to BestCities, but also to the broader community?

Kit: [00:02:43] Right. And that’s such good news, Jane. The incredible impacts program is about recognizing the associations who have gone that extra mile for their communities, but will hopefully also inspire others to do more as well. So, we would like to help push that demand and create positive impact hopefully in every RFP and in the mission statements of every association. And embed it in the education of meeting planners for the benefit, of course, for both associations and destinations, so we want to create a bigger cake.

Jane: [00:03:19] Brilliant. Now we have the Global Forum coming up this year in Madrid. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Kit: [00:03:28] Well, Global Forum this year will be held just after IBTM on the 2nd to the 5th of December. And we are running it then because we want people to be able to attend coming directly from IBTM. And we of course, root for a face-to-face Global Forum this time. The focus will be on developing a legacy together and on inclusion. Building on the last Global Forum in Copenhagen, where we started the conversation about legacy, so we are going to see how impact has been made on society from different Madrid projects.

Jane: [00:04:06] Absolutely and this is when we really need to be face to face because you’re getting out into the community. You’re getting into the Red Cross headquarters, and I think it’s going to be a wonderful edition. For all of those that are able to join us, certainly Madrid are welcoming conferences back and so we really, really, really hope to be there face-to-face. I know we’re all so excited and I would welcome your thoughts on changes since we’re talking about the agile Alliance, but perhaps the changing requirement of a convention bureau to be able to really be a true destination partner. How do you think they need to adapt?

Kit: [00:04:46] Okay, I think that oh, it’s a very complicated question actually, but I think that the CVBs should be able to move between different roles according to the client’s needs and the kind of meeting in question. Sometimes we connect the dots and other times it’s about being that trusted advisor to stakeholders across the whole ecosystem, providing more deep subject matter expertise and able to make a difference in their communities. I think we’ll see more of the latter in the time to come.

Jane: [00:05:20] Absolutely. Now, you are the BestCities Chair for the next two years, can you share some insights as to how you would like to impact the community?

Kit: [00:05:31] Well, we still have a feat of unwrapping the concept of legacy, the deeper understanding throughout the community on how to get the most value out of your congress before, during and after it is taking place in the city, and not least how to measure that. As an Alliance, we still have much more to do on sustainability in terms of creating positive impact as well. COVID was a game changer  and we all know that and BestCities will do its very best to be at the forefront in the years to come.

Jane: [00:06:05] That’s great and actually that brings us to our last question, which is all about growing the community. So, I would like to hear your thoughts on how you see BestCities  growing over the next few years and beyond?

Kit: [00:06:19] Well, BestCities is always on the lookout for new partners  and additional members that would fit the profile and ambition of the Alliance, or industry or non-industry partners, universities, or other knowledge partners. We also want to keep adding associations to that tremendous group of close friends and collaborators.

We already have the way that we can inform and support each other, which is unique to the industry and I think that reflects the vitality of the Alliance. And you know what you should join the next Community Cafe on the 17th of June, which is around “When Communities Collide”.

Jane: [00:07:03] Absolutely, thank you for mentioning that because we’ve got a great lineup of speakers and we really want to dig into why community is so important now, not just to be speaking to our members and our close community, but how can we engage everyone throughout the year and not just at specific events. But Kit, thank you so much for joining me today. Seven questions we got through them under the 10 minutes that I was told to try and keep this to. So, thank you so much we’re delighted you’re the BestCities chair and look forward to working with you closely in the next coming years!

Kit: Thank you so much, Jane.