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September 4, 2013

ICCA & IMEX Report: International Associations Anticipate Strong Meetings Growth in 2014




A survey carried out by IMEX and ICCA among attendees from this year’s IMEX Association Day in Frankfurt indicates "significantly stronger future growth" for association meetings next year.

The results from the latest annual survey into how major international association meetings are faring, continue to paint a very positive picture for this most resilient sector in the meetings industry, despite economic pressures.

A full 92 international association hosted buyers who attended the recent IMEX trade show in Frankfurt responded to the survey, over 77 percent of whom organized or will organize meetings for more than 500 delegates in 2013, and more than 17 percent of whom organize events for over 5,000 delegates. These numbers increased slightly compared to previous years.

Increased Attendance Figures

Over 32 percent of the 92 respondents reported higher attendance for their 2013 events than in previous years (4 percent more than in 2012 and 2011); 37 percent indicated no change (compared to 38 percent in 2012); 24 percent reported slight reductions (compared to 31 percent in 2012) and less than 7 percent reported a "significant" fall in numbers (compared to 3 percent in 2012). 

Tough Financial Pressures

When asked if the continued global economic turbulence had any negative impact on their association and/or events in 2013, almost 57 percent answered “yes”. When this question was asked in 2012 this percentage was almost 60 percent, which means the international association meetings sector has definitely been impacted, but is still showing growth; and slightly more growth than in 2012.

Positive Future Projections

This trend is also illustrated in respondents’ projections for 2014: almost 30 percent of associations will be running more meetings in 2014 than in 2013 (compared to 22 percent in 2012), while less than 7 percent plan to organise fewer meetings (this percentage was 11 percent in 2012). Almost 47 percent are projecting higher attendances than in previous year (40 percent in 2012), compared to almost 9 percent who expect their delegate numbers to fall (10 percent in 2012).

With all of the main indices showing a year on year rise, the regular survey suggests a positive forward forecast despite continued challenging economic conditions. This trend was confirmed earlier this year with the release of the 2012 ICCA rankings for cities and countries, when ICCA reported another year of continued strength in the international association meetings market.

Martin Sirk, ICCA CEO, said that since ICCA has been tracking international associations for half a century, he and his team are "absolutely convinced of the long-term dynamism of this market sector." Still, he added, "the uncertain and volatile financial and economic environment of the last five years has had an impact on delegate numbers and sponsorship support for many association events. It’s great news to see that the sector has regained its optimism, and we anticipate that associations will become increasingly important in every destination’s meetings mix."

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, noted that her association has also been tracking and working closely with the association sector alongside ICCA for more than 10 years. "Even through the economic turbulence of the past few years, the sector has remained resilient and cautiously optimistic. It is good to see the sector continuing this upward trajectory and beginning to display a slightly stronger confidence level. For our exhibitors and for the meetings industry as a whole, this is great news.

Association Focus – Las Vegas

The next opportunity for association meetings executives to come together for professional education under the IMEX banner will be at Association Focus (October 14) taking place the day prior to IMEX America (October 15-17) in Las Vegas.

ICCA Congress 2013, Shanghai, China-P.R.

Meetings industry leaders will also discuss the state of the international association meetings market during the 52nd ICCA Congress taking place November 2-6 in Shanghai, China-P.R.


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