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New kid on the block

Dec 14, 2017
Steve Jordan talks to Patricia Jade Ooi about her new industry conference in Bangkok - IMA

Patricia Jade Ooi might be considered to be a new kid on the block in the conference scene, but she’s not.  She’s just doing something new and, as many would say, brave.  

Pat worked with IMC for three years as the general manager: the organisation that spawned, developed and refined the concept of efficient one-to-one meetings at conferences.  

Back in February 2017, Pat decided to leave her former company and, after much deliberation and loyal support from the industry, chose to set up on her own.  This time, however, she was going to do it for herself … her way.  

Her organisation is IMA Group (International Mobility Alliance).  The conference is planned for 28 February, 2018 to 3 March, 2018 in Bangkok.  Coincidentally, it’s the same dates that her former company is having its conference in Bali.  Choosing the same dates is either very brave or crazy – perhaps both.  It will force delegates to make a straight choice: do they want to go with IMC or try something potentially different and go to IMA in Bangkok?     

Pat doesn’t quite see it that way.  She said she chose the dates because of the other events that are occurring in Bangkok at that time: X2 Conference from 24-28 February, 2018 and FIDI’s regional training for Masters in International Moving from 4-10 March, 2018.    “I did consider doing it earlier or later but I took a risk because I don’t think people will go to two mobility conferences in succession,” she explained.  “It would double their costs for half the results; I don’t want to do that to my friends and delegates. I also have to take into account how to maximize their flight investments for those who are attending the other events in Bangkok and so I am willing to take a step back in their favour. If my delegates can come to me, I will definitely welcome them; but if they can’t, I will understand.”  

It’s a big financial commitment and Pat says she is taking the risk by funding everything herself.  She has been offered financial support but has chosen to resist it.  When I spoke to her, in early October, her conference webpage (www.cvent.com/d/7tqm87) showed to have over 50 delegates from 28 countries who had their names listed as attending.  In the interest of journalistic good practice, I did some investigation and checked with some and they have confirmed that they will be there.    

Pat affirms that IMA will not be identical to her previous company’s programme.  It will showcase the opportunity for face-to-face business meeting sessions. It’s called the IMA Partner4Partner Scheduler, and booking arrangements will be sufficiently flexible to meet the individual needs of the user.  She’s also having three social events and a high-profile guest speaker, Mr Fred Schlomann from AIR INC Asia Pacific has confirmed attendance.  Pat has not skimped on the conference hotel either: the IMA2018 will be held at the luxurious Marriott Marquis Queen's Park Hotel in Bangkok that won the Asia Pacific Awards 2017-2018 as Thailand’s best convention hotel, Thailand’s best city hotel and Asia’s best city hotel.  She has also negotiated a very good room rate of US$148nett/night for all IMA delegates.  

Pat is very excited at the prospect of running her own company and, as all who know her will agree, will work tirelessly to make it a success.  She’s also very proud that it’s independent.  “I love what I do and I want it to be neutral and transparent,” she explained.  “I just want it to work for the benefit of my delegates.  If it works for them, it will work for me.  Nobody will take better care of my delegates and their pockets than me,”   

The 3½-day IMA 2018 conference costs US$920 to attend.  A portion of the registration fees will go directly to Pat’s chosen charity, Operation Smile, Thailand, that works to provide surgery and post-operative care to local babies who are born with cleft palate. “We want to give the gift that saves a life and stays for life,” Pat smiles.  

So where will everyone be heading off to on 28 February, 2018?  As IMA goes ahead, it will probably split attendance away from IMC – that can hardly be avoided.  How will it all shake out?  Only time will tell.   

Photo:  Patricia Jade Ooi 

Note: Since publication, The Mover has been made aware that the dates of the IMC Conference have changed to 23-25 February, 2018 and the venue is now Dubai.


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