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Its efforts in this direction have been backed up by certificates of compliance with national and international standards awarded to the Euskalduna management system. This has also been an essential factor in numerous distinctions and awards earned by the centre.
A set of planned, systematic activities drawn up to generate confidence in the ability of a product or service to meet the requirements established.
The Euskalduna Conference Centre realises that it must understand the current and future needs of its customers, meet their demands and strive to exceed their expectations.
This means fostering initiatives and proposals for improvement suggested by all personnel, since those working in-house can see shortcomings and problems more easily than customers can. The centre must therefore go further than demanded by customers as regards the quality standards required.
The Euskalduna Conference Centre undertakes to adopt such measures as may be necessary to draw up viable projects and reconcile the financial, social and environmental aspects of its operations.
This refers to the ability of all persons, regardless of potential disabilities, to use and enjoy the amenities and services offered by the Euskalduna Conference Centre. Continuous improvement in accessibility in the surrounding area is sought.
This means implementing the prevention and protection measures required to eliminate or at least minimise occupational risks.
The International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC) awarded the Euskalduna Jauregia/Palacio Euskalduna Conference Centre in Bilbao its Apex Award for the World’s Best Congress Centre in 2003.
The award was announced in the course of the AIPC’s annual congress that year, which was held at the Congress Center Rosengarten in the German city of Mannheim.
The AIPC is a specialist, not-for-profit organisation set up in 1958 that currently comprises centres from 57 countries on five continents. Its members include the world’s leading congress centres.
In 2000 the AIPC created and developed the Apex Awards, which seek to provide international recognition for the standard of services and features offered by leading congress centres from all over the world.
These awards have earned great renown. Winners in the years prior to the Euskalduna Conference Centre in Bilbao included Melbourne (2000), Innsbruck (2001) and Vancouver (2002).
Candidates for the awards were selected and assessed by the Department of Applied Science at the Heilbronn University in Germany. Nine different areas were examined and assessed.
The final score obtained by the Euskalduna Conference Centre centre was 97.62/100. The average score across the 17 centres participating that year was 89.64.
In June 2001 the Euskalduna Conference Centre centre obtained an ISO-9001 quality certificate, following its strategic decision to implement a quality management system based on the development and application of processes to improve effectiveness and increase customer satisfaction.
ISO-9001 certification is an acknowledgement of how important it quality management system is to the Euskalduna Conference Centre. It is focused on raising the centre’s profile in society so that it does not generate a deficit for the economy and culture of the Basque Country, but rather has positive impact.
The quality management certificate acknowledges the efforts of the centre to stand out clearly from other organisations for the high standards of its facilities, and seek to be a reference for the sector.
Quality must be key in customer satisfaction at the Euskalduna Conference Centre. It must also be the driving force that generates the necessary level of empathy with event organisers and attendees.
The Euskalduna Conference Centre obtained an ISO-14001 environmental management certificate in November 2005, after setting in place the procedures required to rationalise the use of resources and reduce the amount of waste produced by its activities.
The Euskalduna Conference Centre was one of the first two congress centres in Spain (the other was Valencia) to obtain all three major quality certificates (ISO-9001, the “Q” for quality and ISO-14001).
ISO-14001 certification is a recognition of how important society is for the Euskalduna Conference Centre, and of the need to behave in a responsible, solidarity-based manner as regards the environment. It also certifies that the centre adopts the measures necessary to guarantee the right to a healthy, environmentally sustainable environment, “as recognised in the Bizkaia Declaration on the Human Right to the Environment”.
The Environmental Management Certificate acknowledges the centre’s “commitment to preventing environmental pollution”. It also “assures compliance with legal regulations currently in place”, establishes “goals and targets for progress in continuous improvement on environmental matters” and confirms the measures already adopted along these lines by the Euskalduna Conference Centre and its fostering of those same measures among its suppliers, dealers, collaborators, etc.
In February 2009 the Euskalduna Conference Centre was awarded the OHSAS 18000 certificate, which recognises that it holds an occupational health & safety management system that is suitable for preventing and controlling risks in the workplace and ensuring a process of continuous improvement to minimise such risks. It was the first Congress centre in Spain to earn this prestigious certificate.
OHSAS 18000 standards are designed to be compatible with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 management standards in matters of quality and environmental issues, respectively. This facilitates the integration of quality, environment and occupational health & safety management systems at firms.
The benefits of applying OHSAS 18000 standards include reductions in the number of accidents suffered by personnel thanks to the prevention and control of risks in the workplace, a reduction in the risk of major accidents and a reduction in material losses caused by accidents and undesired interruption of operations.
The ISO Standard international certification network which, together with AENOR in Spain, awards international certificates to the Euskalduna Conference Centre.
The Universal Accessibility Certificate in line with European standard UNE 170.001-2 credits that the amenities and services offered by the Euskalduna Conference Centre can be used and enjoyed by all persons, regardless of any potential disabilities, and acknowledges that management systems are in place to foster continuous improvement in accessibility in the surrounding areas.
This certificate is granted by the prestigious US Green Building Council in acknowledgement of the sustainability of buildings. It certifies that buildings are operated sustainably and in an environmentally responsible manner, and that they are comfortable and efficient in their use of resources. The Euskalduna Conference Centre was the first congress centre in Europe to obtain this certificate.
In October 2004 the ICTE (Spanish Institute for Quality in Tourism) awarded the “Q” for quality and tourism to the Euskalduna Conference Centre. It was the first centre of its kind in Spain to receive this iconic certificate.
The ICTE quality standards for congress centres was designed so that after the Institute was set up in 2000. It comprises five service units, matched with the functional areas in which congress centres operate: management, handling of events, catering, hygiene/cleanliness and upkeep.
The “Q” for quality in tourism provides a rigorous, objective assessment that certifies that its holders are committed to continuous improvement in the services that they provide.
The ICTE is an independent, private, not-for-profit organisation that is recognised throughout Spain. It was set up at the initiative of businesses in the tourist sector, with support from the office of the Secretary of State for Trade and Tourism.
Its certificates are awarded in acknowledgement of efforts made by businesses and organisations in the tourist sector to implement quality systems.
These certificates are a mark of prestige, because they demonstrate that businesses are committed to achieving complete customer satisfaction by offering excellent service. They are also highly reliable, because the mechanisms used to assess whether organisations comply with the requirements of the relevant standards are independent of each individual sector and are designed in accordance with inter-sectoral regulations.