March 2019 Best Cities Global Alliance 5 partnership flourish – meaning that even the more unconventional pairings shouldn’t be ruled out when considering a partnership. The importance of partnerships in impact work Paul Vallee, MD of BestCities Global Alliance, talks to AEM aul Vallee is managing director of the BestCities Global Alliance. He is responsible for the successful delivery of the alliance’s strategic plan, performance monitoring and overseeing its operations. Paul is also executive consultant with Gaining Edge, which in addition to managing BestCities, provides consulting exclusively to the convention and meetings market. Here he speaks on the growing trend for partnerships in associations and how the industry can benefit from collaboration. Why are partnerships so important? We seek out partners to be able to do things we wouldn’t be able to on your own, to expand our skillsets, resources, and offerings. That’s how you create something of value. The beauty of a partnership, to me, is working together to complement one another and to build something creative and fresh that one may not have otherwise been able to do. That’s the primary advantage and the purpose of partnering. BestCities as an alliance has built its foundations on partnerships and works to help destinations and associations identify partnerships that would work for them. How can an organisation find the right partner for them? Finding the right partner in association work is no different to finding a personal relationship or partner. You have to consider your association’s needs and areas of strength, using that as a basis to define where the best fit lies. What is it that will make you as an organisation prosper? The best way to identify a suitable partner is to find those who are complimentary to what it is that you are doing. It’s not about the similarities, it’s the differences that organisations may have that can make the What’s an example of an effective partnership that you have observed? One that I have overseen and have been closest to would be between BestCities and ICCA, because while we exist in the same sphere, we are not exactly the same. We work together with ICCA on various programmes that give back to the industry, such as the recognition programme and Incredible Impacts. We’re a business and a global alliance, whereas they are an association that works in education and holding conferences. They offer areas of skills and expertise that we don’t have and vice versa. The foundation of any partnership is to establish what it is you’re hoping to achieve, what does success look like, and how you plan to deliver it. That’s the basis of what a successful partnership is; identifying successful outcomes for all parties and a path to that success. In the case of BestCities and ICCA, our idea of success was to recognise associations that are doing outstanding work and legacy development to support associations and collectively build our reputation in the industry overall. Where do you see the future of collaboration and partnership with associations going and BestCities’ role within that? When associations and destinations find common ground, great things can happen. For example, an association that specialises in the eradication of a disease will find common ground from destinations that wants to improve the health of the citizens. Or for instance, an association whose purpose is to reduce child poverty is really no different to a destination who wants to see their young people survive and thrive. What we’re moving towards is associations taking advantage of the benefits of collaboration and partnership in refreshing new ways, using these to extend offers and working towards a better future that benefits all. That’s a partnership to me.