BestCities Global Alliance has appointed Loren Christie as new managing director, taking over the role from Lesley Williams who led the BestCities team for three years.
Christie has held various leadership roles with Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Destination Toronto, and has spent 20 years in broadcast television, which includes a regular travel segment on Canada’s national TV network.
During the past three years, he has built a consulting business that provides project management and solutions for the hospitality, travel and tourism industries, with a focus on legacy, impact, and promoting equity, diversion and inclusion.
In his new role, Loren will prioritise the alliance’s focus on legacy and sustainability to advance the global impact of meetings events.
“I am thrilled to join the BestCities team and continue the incredible legacy that Lesley has left during her time with the alliance,” said Christie.
“I’m looking forward to working with the head office team, board of directors, and member destinations to expand our impact in the global meetings landscape and generate new, sustainable business.”
Dr Edward Koh, board chair at BestCities Global Alliance, thanked Williams for her commitment over the past several years.
“She had the challenging task of steering BestCities through a global pandemic and contributed to the subsequent rebuilding of the global meetings industry,” he said.
“Lesley has done an exceptional job, leading the alliance to greater success on both counts.”
BestCities has also announced changes to the Incredible Impacts Programme that it oversees in partnership with and the International Congress and Convention Association.
Starting this year, the Incredible Impacts Programme will award one association a grant of US$20,000, changed from previous years where three grants of US$7,500 were distributed.
The new selection process will involve a jury shortlisting three finalists, who will each present their entry during a plenary session at the annual ICCA Congress in November. For the first time, congress attendees will be able to vote on the winner, with the final score evenly weighted between jury and audience.
The Incredible Impacts Programme will also provide a seed grant of US$5,000 to associations seeking to establish a new legacy programme.
“We are thrilled to introduce the latest evolution of the Incredible Impacts Programme, which not only recognises associations demonstrating innovative thinking and creativity to achieve impact, but also inspires others to incorporate legacy initiatives into future events,” said Williams.
“We’re also pleased to provide support to associations eager to implement a legacy programme, with an eye towards encouraging most, if not all, international associations to integrate legacy and impact into their conference planning going forward.”
Senthil Gopinath, CEO of ICCA, said they wanted to raise the stakes for entrants.
“To celebrate the best of the best and raise the stakes to a ‘winner takes all’ scenario because the stories our associations are telling – and the legacies their initiatives are leaving – thoroughly warrant a solo moment in the spotlight,” he said.
“By bringing Congress attendees into the final judging process raises the impact value, kudos, and ‘wow’ factor to the Incredible Impacts win.”