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November 23, 2008

Record attendance level as ICCA Congress takes over Victoria

A strong business focus and strategic educational content attracted meetings industry leaders from 65 countries for the recent ICCA Congress, resulting in the highest attendance level for a hosting in the Americas.

Some 734 people attended the Congress in Victoria, Canada, making it the third most popular of all time. "We were delighted with the overall numbers and particularly with the strong geographical spread and the seniority of the delegates,” said ICCA chief executive Martin Sirk. “Victoria worked brilliantly for this size of event – our delegates really felt they ‘took over’ the city.”

Strong business focus
At this year’s Congress, ICCA presented the latest business outlook survey by its members. The recent global financial turmoil is starting to have an impact on future expectations, but 2008 is still anticipated to be an excellent overall business year, with only a small minority of ICCA members planning marketing budget or staff cuts in 2009.

Around 126 delegates participated in the Congress Business Exchange, sharing inside knowledge on international association meetings they had recently won or hosted. This open sharing of detailed knowledge on events, which rotate around the world, is one of ICCA's unique features.

Freshers' session: ICCA Congress first-timers attend a special seminar

ICCA also launched a new approach to measuring the return on investment from attending the Congress, based on each delegate evaluating their personal objectives. Initial feedback from delegates indicated that an overwhelming majority believed they generated valuable insights into the state of the market, new management and marketing ideas they can implement, and in many cases concrete new sales leads.

ICCA General Assembly

ICCA reported continued financial stability and growth in membership in all regions of the world, and 95% annual membership retention rates.

Member benefits were significantly increased with new products included within the membership fees, such as a comprehensive PR kit to enable members to easily manage their communication to over 300 meetings industry media.

International association meetings are the most resilient market segment in times of economic turmoil, and ICCA is positioning itself as the most cost-effective means of winning business from this market segment. ICCA will increase investment in its International Association Database to assist members through the current challenging economic times: more research staff will be employed and more investment in IT systems will be done in 2009.

Putting education first
Education has long been a key focus of the ICCA Congress and this year was not exception, with Sirk delighted with the quality of the 2008 programme.

"We’re still waiting for the final delegate survey responses to come in, but based on the initial feedback from over 40% of the delegates, I am confident this year's programme will be judged the strongest ICCA has ever put on," said Sirk

More than 90% of the sessions were custom-designed specifically for the event and its senior international audience, with top international corporate and association clients and outside experts supplementing ICCA's members.

ICCA's Best Marketing Award, one of the few plenary sessions, received particularly outstanding evaluations. "Where else but at the ICCA Congress could one expect to hear outstanding marketing ideas from three finalists from such varied places as Liverpool, Salt Lake City and Sarawak" said ICCA president Leigh Harry.

Funding the future
Once again the ICCA Congress featured a Silent Auction, which was a great success, raising €24,000 for the ICCA Education Fund – double the amount generated last year!

The fund provides educational opportunities for Young Meetings Professionals and the fund financially supports the Forums for Young Professionals at meetings, conference and incentive travel shows EIBTM and AIME, held in Barcelona and Sydney respectively.

For more information about the ICCA Congress, visit www.iccaworld.com

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