ICCA: Association Meeting Growth ‘Solid’

Study to mark organization’s 55th anniversary estimates $53.6 billion has been spent on meetings over the last five years alone.

By Boardroom editors

The number of international association meetings doubled every decade from 1963 to 2013, according to an ICCA study that also found that while meeting growth has slowed, it has remained “solid” over the past five years. And though the average meeting size has decreased, research indicates that the frequency of meetings continues to multiply.

The extensive study on the growth of the meetings industry and its lasting legacy was released this month as ICCA celebrates its 55th anniversary.

ICCA’s “A Modern History of International Association Meetings” estimates that $53.6 billion has been spent on meetings over the last five years alone, with Asia and Latin America rising in the ranks as far as meetings per region go.

“It isn’t just important to celebrate the dynamism of the whole sector, driven as it is by ever-accelerating scientific, technological, and health-care-related advances and innovation. It is also vital to recognise the massive improvements to society that individual associations and their meetings can deliver, and there are still enormous improvements to be made in that area,” ICCA acting CEO Dennis Speet said.

The report shows that international meetings offer delegates and host destinations a value that goes beyond economic impact, leaving legacies across the globe thanks to the role the association sector plays in “solving complex societal challenges,” ICCA says.

Association meetings help drive social change, ICCA says, by placing some of the most relevant global issues on prime display and by bringing together government, industry, NGOs, and academia to discuss and solve them. Industry leaders note that with each scientific and technological discovery or advancement, a new association — or conference — often emerges, continuing the growth of business opportunities and innovation.

“The results of our 55-year advocacy report demonstrate how new avenues of possibility are opening up for our industry with this new phase of growth. To ensure our industry’s continued longevity, we must adapt to any upcoming challenges that rapid societal developments will bring,” ICCA President Nina Freysen-Pretorius said.

Now in its second year, ICCA’s Incredible Impacts Programme, which offers grants to help international associations advance future legacy projects, has made an impact with a number of events, including the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) Congress 2017, which focused on creating knowledge transfer opportunities. WCPT was one of three recipients to receive the grant, which it used to host its biennial event in Africa for the first time. By hosting the congress in a region that allowed more African delegates to attend (with 26.5 percent of attendees hailing from Africa, compared to 3.6 percent from Africa who travelled to Singapore two years prior), WCPT widened the net for knowledge sharing, allowing delegates who may come from low-income countries to have a big voice in the industry and create change at home and abroad.

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