June 12th, 2018

Dubrovnik 2018 - CEO Report

Tad Zurlinden

Twenty years of EuRA, twenty conferences.  Quite a milestone!  For EuRA, its members across the world and personally for me too.

We frequently refer to the EuRA Family, and this year at our 20th anniversary conference, it felt like a reunion.  The sun shone brightly on the superb Sun Gardens Dubrovnik, which was just one of the best venues we’ve had for the event and we’ve had some great ones.  From my teams’ point of view as organisers, the hotel just got it right at every turn.  The team were just brilliant, so professional and before we even knew there was an issue they had solved it.  But I’d like to let you all know how much they appreciated the EuRA group.  The Sun gardens team told us many times, what a great group we are and how much they enjoyed delivering the event to such an appreciative audience.

There are many highlights for me at every conference, but this year was overwhelming!

Delegates started to arrive over the weekend and it’s always wonderful to see people arrive, but this year, we were so delighted at your reactions as you came into the lobby of the hotel, to be greeted with that amazing view and the sunshine!

Tuesday was our annual Immigration Symposium which received great responses from delegates.  This is the third year we have run this separate event and for those members involved in the delivery of immigration services, has become an invaluable meeting to attend.  Our RMC sponsors had their network meetings and these have become an important adjunct to the EuRA conference programme.  Being able to all meet in the same place saves everyone time and money and facilitates communication and updates within the supply chain.

On Wednesday we also provide slots for the supply chain meetings and the annual MIGroup lunch which as always, was a great success and a terrific opportunity for their suppliers to enjoy their annual awards ceremony.

We had a comprehensive programme of breakout sessions, the biggest ever.  I have to extend a big thank you and congratulations to Peggy Love for all the work and support she gave Dom and the moderators and speakers.  She did a great job and we look forward to another great selection of intellectual content in Munich.

The conference plenary got underway on Wednesday afternoon, without the irrepressible Frances Edmonds (who will be back next year following her Fellowship at the Distinguished Careers Institute at Stanford University) but with the brilliant Peggy Love and Helmut Berg as our MC’s.  We followed our annual tradition of “the song”, equally loved and hated by the delegates and team alike (and bravely led and written by Dom see YouTube for the full humiliation) and then we looked to the coming year of EuRA work.  Our opening keynote, Dave Coplin, was truly brilliant and inspirational in his address “The Rise of the Humans”, the full content of which is on our YouTube Channel

The Welcome Reception by the pool overlooking the Adriatic as the sun went down over the islands is one which will live long in our collective memories.  What a stunning location and a great opportunity to catch up with friends over a drink or two.

Thursday saw the first annual EuRA Charity 5K Fun Run, or from my POV, Fun Walk!  We also had the exhibition in full swing and thanks to all our exhibitors for being with us this year.  We had great feedback from them, the location of the conference was ideal from an exhibition standpoint as delegates did most of their networking in the same space and out on the beautiful Adriatic Terrace, under the Croatian sun.  We had an array of terrific breakout sessions, which are summarised in this edition.  As usual there is a full set of day by day photo galleries on our Flickr feed and linked to our website.

Thursday night is gala night and this year we were hosted by the Sun Gardens and their exceptional teams.

For the first time since Edinburgh, the board took the decision to mark the 20th anniversary by honouring a few of our members on stage.  The first EuRA Prizes for Exceptional Partnership were awarded to Walter Woolf and Linda Fries of Air Animal Pet transport and Charlie and Vanessa McCrow of The Apartment Service.  These exceptional couples have taken personal success and built professional success as a result and it was a privilege to acknowledge their contribution to the industry.

Two awards were given for Outstanding Contribution to Relocation, to Ken Barron of CORT Global and Patrick Oman, past President of EuRA.  They have both made a real difference to our industry as pioneers and innovators and it was a unanimous decision by the Executive Group to honour their contributions in our 20th year.

Our brilliant delegates raised €9,000 at the annual fund raiser, ably chaired by our auctioneer Patrick Oman, another outstanding contribution, this time to our amazing charity Marina Drzica Special School - in total we raised €25,000 from our fund raising efforts.  If you didn’t get the chance to make a contribution, you can at anytime via our JustGiving page.

Friday’s plenary programme was really appreciated and superbly informative, but in competition with the Croatian sun, maybe a little under attended but we got great responses in the conference survey.  All the plenary sessions are on our YouTube channel and don’t miss our exceptional Igniters, this year brilliantly put together by Michele Bramstoft.

So Friday night saw the Galleon take guests to the final night party on the Beach - a truly magical sight.  After an evening of dancing and celebrating we drew yet another EuRA Conference to a close.

So next year the fantastic city of Munich!  I had many conversations along the lines of “Well how will you top this year’s event?” to which we all reply, we can’t we just strive to always be different, always innovative and always, a have a great  family reunion!

Tad Zurlinden - EuRA CEO