Polar Field Staff Conference

AECO and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) will deliver their third joint Polar Field Staff Conference from September 22 to September 25, 2019. The conference gathers guides, expedition leaders and operations managers working for both polar trade associations to support their shared mission of advocating and promoting safe and environmentally responsible polar travel. The three-day event will take place in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Date: September 22nd, 2019 – September 25th, 2019
Location: Sturbridge, Massachusetts, USA

The conference program is available here. Registration was available on IAATO’s website.


The 2019 Polar Field Staff Conference will be the fifth of its kind. The first two conferences were organized by AECO in Longyearbyen in 2008 and in Copenhagen in 2013. The third conference was organized by IAATO in collaboration with AECO in Toronto in 2015. In 2017, AECO in collaboration with IAATO organized a Field Staff Conference in Hveragerði, Iceland. AECO and IAATO have decided to take turns organizing biannual polar field staff conferences in the years to come.

The joint AECO/IAATO conferences aimed at field staff have been well attended by members, and strengthen the coordination between AECO and IAATO’s initiatives in their respective regions. The gathering supports the two associations’ joint mission of advancing safe and environmentally responsible travel in the polar regions. The conference is timed to the shoulder season between the Arctic and Antarctic cruise seasons, allowing field staff to take advantage of the rare opportunity to meet with peers from other companies in order to learn from each other and share best practices, knowledge and expertise.

Responsible Field Leadership is the theme of this year’s gathering; focusing on embodying both company and IAATO/AECO ethos in the field, while upholding the reputation of operators as responsible tourism providers.  Delegates can expect industry updates, a look at the ‘tourist of tomorrow’ with particular focus on guest expectations and cultural sensitivity, as well as the role of marketing and communication. The intensive 2 ½ day program provides field staff with ample opportunity to network, discuss and exchange experiences with counterparts and invited experts.

Invitations and information on how to register has been sent out to all AECO and IAATO members. If you have not received this information and is interested in attending, please send an email to Operations (a) iaato.org.

More information about agendas, suggested airports and transfers will be shared with AECO and IAATO members in due course.

Previous conferences

The topic of the 2017 conference was “Evolution and New Challenges in the Polar Tourism Industry.” The three-day conference program included sessions on growth management, technological developments, safety standards, operational development, citizen science and field staff qualification. More than 90 people signed up for the conference, and participants included expedition leaders and senior field staff, as well as a number of government, academic and NGO representatives.

The program from the 2017 edition of the conference is available here.

thumbnail of PCFC Program WEB