Some of the foremost international meetings industry experts are among a host of top speakers set to appear at the first-ever Business Events Leaders’ Summit to be staged in Scotland, it was announced today.

Martin Sirk, Chief Executive of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), and John Sharkey, Executive Vice President of SMG Europe, the global venue management company, will both join the inaugural event at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow on March 21st. Bill Thomson, Founder of Hello Scotland, a leading Scottish destination management company (DMC), will also join the Summit, alongside Judy Rae, Chair of Business Tourism for Scotland.

“Scottish meetings destinations have long been amongst the most innovative and forward-thinking players in the international association meetings sector,” said Sirk, who has helped spearhead ICCA’s Incredible Impacts programme, which celebrates the “beyond tourism” value of international association meetings.

He added: “I often use examples from ICCA members in Glasgow and Edinburgh, so I’m delighted to join this Summit, and hope to learn a great deal as well as to share insights from other parts of the world into what’s happening and what thought-leaders are saying about the value and role of meetings.”

Sirk has also been instrumental in working with the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) on the Iceberg project, which seeks to better reflect the hidden value of meetings to economic and social wellbeing.

The event will also welcome figures from some of Scotland’s leading economic sectors, including technology, life sciences, space and design. Destinations across the world, including Scotland, are increasingly working with key sectors in which they are strong to appeal to international associations to bid and host events in those specialist areas.

VisitScotland – through its InnovatetheNation and Legends campaigns – has made that pivot towards key sectors; Scottish Enterprise has also recognised the value of embedding meetings activity at the heart of priority sector activity and will also join the conference.

“This is the first time Scotland will have played host to the Business Events Leaders’ Summit and I very much welcome this new addition to the MICE landscape here,” said Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events at VisitScotland.

“We are at a critical juncture in the business events industry where we must be more innovative in the way we seek to host and attract international business events to our shores. Hence our re-booted national ambassador programme, Innovate The Nation and our social media campaign Legends.”

Two leading academics from Australia – whose research helped inform the business case for the $1.5bn (AUS) ICC Sydney – will fly in as keynote speakers at the one-day conference.

Associate Professor Deborah Edwards and Associate Professor Carmel Foley, from the University of Technology Sydney, are co-authors of The Power of Conferences, published this year, which explores the long-term impacts of conferences through the stories of 10 prominent Australians.

They are also  collaborating with the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) on the Event Case Study Program, an international project that is redefining the value proposition of the global business events industry.

They will be joined by Jeannie Lim, who has led the Conventions, Meetings & Incentive Travel division of the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau, a group under the Singapore Tourism Board, since 2011.

Sam Johnston, Manager of Dublin Convention Bureau, will also fly in to tell the story of how Dublin has become such a magnet for technology events – such as the Dublin Tech Summit – and how the city’s convention bureau works with key economic sectors to attract international conferences.

Register for the Business Events Leaders’ Summit here.