Home > News Category
Related topics: News Category,Business, Industry Associations
July 20, 2009

SUCCESS BY ASSOCIATION:Inside the ICCA's latest research on association meetings

The International Congress and Convention Association’s report on the associations meeting market for 2008 shows an industry sector that is proving remarkably resilient amid the economic turmoil. Pete Roythorne takes and in-depth look at the report.

The international associations meetings market remained buoyant throughout last year despite the inclement financial conditions, according to recently published statistics by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). But for how much longer?

The association’s survey, The International Association Meetings Market 2008, claims to have identified more international association meetings than ever taking place in a single year, with over 800 more regularly occurring and rotating events than in 2007. It also notes record numbers of delegates and similarly impressive estimated expenditure.

In his introduction, Martin Sirk, ICCA chief executive, claims the association has always keenly backed this segment of the international meetings industry, and he believes this year’s findings show there is “a healthy and powerful creative process at the heart of this market”.


Success by association: the international association
meetings market holds its own for 2008


Global vision
The number of events rotating worldwide in 2008 was up 2% from 2007, to 50%. This appears to have been at the expense of the 30% of events rotating in Europe only, which decreased by 2%. The other rotation areas remained approximately the same as in last year’s report. This would appear to show that the associations are prepared to go further afield and target some of the more emerging destinations. Indeed, as with the 2007 report, 60% (3,523) of the headquarters of associations which organised international meetings in 2008 are based in Europe.

Although the figures are certainly skewed towards Europe – with 55% of all association meetings being held there – the continent has seen its dominance being gradually eroded away year on year, down from 61% in 2003. This seems to have been to the advantage of Latin America and Africa, which have seen their share rise to 9% and 3% respectively. Asia and North America remain stable at 19% and 11% respectively, with Australia weighing in at 3%.

This shift in balance is also reflected in the number of meetings per city, with Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo being remarkable new entries into the top 20. Joining them in their assault on the global meetings summit are Athens and Tokyo.

However, at the top, European supremacy continues with Vienna sharing the crown for most popular city with Paris, and Barcelona in third. Singapore, meanwhile, dropped one place to fourth and Berlin dropped three places to fifth. There were two new entries into the top 10, Stockholm and Seoul.

With regard to countries, the status quo remains pretty much unchanged with the US and Germany continuing their dominance as numbers one and two respectively. Spain, third, and France, fourth, had a considerable increase in the amount of meetings compared to 2007 – 40 and 79 respectively.

The UK also saw an increase in the number of events – plus 40 – but still dropped one place to fifth in the rankings. This year, the Netherlands gatecrashed the top 10 at the expense of Austria.

People power
Although the average number of delegates dropped slightly from last year, to 638 – down 18 delegates – the US came in with the highest estimated total number of delegates, with almost 680,000 participants in 2008, an increase of more than 250,000 on its 2007 figures.

However, as in 2007, Italy was second, with an increase of more than 50,000 participants to over 400,000 delegates for 2008. Meanwhile, Germany remained in third with a similar increase to over 360,000 participants. Despite this, Berlin measured as the number one city for 2008 at 106,171.

While these figures show that the sector indeed had a strong year in 2008, it remains to be seen whether this will continue into this year.

Sirk remains bullish on the subject.

“Important new topics are finding big audiences; regional events are being spawned from the established global gatherings; new rotation patterns are being established; competition between associations is becoming more intense; association activity and memberships are growing in Asia, Latin America and Africa,” he explains.

“All of these trends are happening at the same time, and there is no sign whatsoever that they are going to slow down, no matter how tough the current economic crisis turns out to be.”

But, he concedes, there is “some anecdotal evidence to suggest that there will be reductions in average attendances in 2009, following the marginal declines seen in 2008, but there are almost no event cancellations and postponements taking place, and the overall mood of international association meeting planners is unmistakably positive. This was certainly the case at IMEX 2009 last May, whose Association Day programme once again attracted new record numbers.”

Whether his bullish stance is vindicated in the results for 2009 is yet to be seen.

Click here for details on the ICCA's country and city rankings.

Next week, we get an indication of how associations events are faring this year, with analysis of the Incon figures for the sector for the first half 2009.

What do you think of this $type?





   IT&CM China  Caribbean Meeting Incentive Travel Exchange      Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition EIBTM IBTM IMEX America  IT&CMA IT&CM China IT&CM India Conventa BTC convene  cventMBTMMA 2013 COCAL 

GLOBAL AGENCY PARTNERS                                                                                           OFFICIAL TRADE SHOW PARTNER FOR THE UK MEETINGS MARKET 

MCI Ovation Euromic