Updated April 2019

The annual ICCA country and city rankings are one of the most eagerly anticipated reports in the global meetings industry, which can offer some very valuable Marketing and PR opportunities, if used wisely...

Here are 7 ways NOT to use the ICCA rankings in your promotional activities:

1.    Don’t just communicate your improved 2018 ranking as a press release

Press loves statistics and rankings. However, the fact alone that you have jumped the ICCA charts is not news-worthy on its own. To successfully generate a PR profile for your organisation and your destination in the media, you have to realize that the fact of your ICCA ranking on its own is not interesting enough for press to publish. 

Instead, you could use the rankings as an angle to communicate your destination’s core brand values, key messages, new marketing campaigns or ambassador programme to tell a story. The releases that get the most coverage are the ones that create a newsworthy story around a news fact. Consider the following in telling this story:

  • This story should answer WHY you got the current position in the rankings: Have you launched a new ambassador programme or a new direct marketing campaign?

  • Find a human angle – even if it’s just the fact that an ambassador has secured the conference for their hometown. A quote from them, and a little bit of personal background, would be enough to make a standard story stand out from countless others in a similar vein. People are interested in people.

  • Use a high-res colorful picture. Human beings are visual creatures; We like looking at stuff. Yes indeed, a single picture can tell a thousand words.

See also AMI’s James Lancaster blog post which is still very valid: “Remember your three Ps. Point (or Purpose), People, and Pictures”.

However, we suggest you do repeatedly plug in your good ICCA ranking in your PR messages as they do indicate a trend and represent trust as for your destination as a reliable and experienced association meetings host: Repetition works!

2.    Don’t ignore your latest ICCA ranking if you have dropped in the tables

Prepare your story, even if you have dropped in the rankings. The rankings draw a lot of media attention and you better be prepared when a journalist ask you why your destination has dropped in the rankings!

3.    Don’t ignore your ranking if you are a smaller destination

If you are a smaller destination, you have to get creative: Maybe you have hosted fewer but bigger meetings and you have hosted more participants? Did you organise more meetings in a specific subject area for which your city is a knowledge hub? Where do you rank in your national country ranking? Maybe you are amongst the top 10 biggest risers in a certain segment? What is your ranking based on estimated total number of participants instead of number of meetings?

As an ICCA member, you can use the ICCA Destination Comparison Tool to find out all of the above.

4.    Don’t focus on the latest ICCA rankings alone, but provide the full picture

5.    Don’t just look at the obvious “tourism” numbers

Look beyond the obvious bed nights and travel expenditure, but use the fact that the number of association meetings are growing exponentially for advocacy purposes to your key stakeholders, like your local community or government for which you rely on for funding. Team up with the association in their advocacy efforts and highlight the value of the meeting beyond the touristic impact only: communicate the economic and societal benefit of the meeting for your destination.

6.    Don’t ignore the promotional opportunity to associations

The ICCA rankings help meeting planners to decide where to hold their events, as they are scrutinising the ICCA rankings to work out which destinations are increasing in popularity and where their peers are meeting. Use the rankings to promote your destination to association meeting planners.

Consider placing a sponsored hyperlink in the public version of the 2018 statistics report which ICCA is sending to over 5,500 associations in mid-June.

ICCA offers members to include your side of the story in a full-page advertorial in the Public Abstract of the ICCA Statistics Report 2018! You can use this advertorial to share your destination’s perspective on the ICCA rankings and give a full picture of the meetings market in terms of eg. types of meetings hosted, the economic impact and the legacy of these meetings. 

For more information on these opportunities please contact Sebastian Sew.

7.    Don’t miss out on free distribution channels

Let ICCA help you to distribute and amplify your news. The ICCA PR Kit provides all members with some simple, free and effective tools to increase your PR profile (all available in My ICCA):

  • Press Database: Download an up-to-date press list of 400 international meetings industry journalists

  • Post your press release on the ICCA website & social media channels

  • Use hashtag #ICCAWorld when publishing your news, so our global community can easily find it and we can amplify your message with ICCA's social media accounts.


What are the ICCA statistics, and what are they not?

When planning your promotional opportunities, it is good to realize what the ICCA rankings represent, and what not, since there are some misconceptions in our industry.

ICCA statistics are only representing a segment of the meetings market

ICCA has collected data on international association meetings since 1963. For almost as long as there has been an international association meetings sector, ICCA has been there alongside, in all regions of the world, to observe and carefully record its growth. In the world of international meetings, international comparison reports of other meetings market segments on a global scale are lacking. Most countries are still struggling to obtain even a partial picture of the current size and impact of this complex and fragmented industry. Due to lack of global figures on other meeting segments, the ICCA rankings are often mistakenly perceived as the destination rankings for the meetings industry as a whole, even though they just represent a segment of the market.

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”

To be clear: Our statistics only include meetings organized by associations, as included in the ICCA Association Database, which live up to three strict criteria. They must:

  • be attended by at least 50 participants

  • be organised on a regular basis (one-time events are not included)

  • move between at least 3 different countries

ICCA rankings are not set in stone; They are a constantly evolving snapshot, which will be different each year ICCA statistics are published

ICCA rankings are only a snapshot of the ICCA Association Database at a specific time, in this case 30 April 2019. Many meetings are added to destinations after the immediate year they have taken place. The numbers and rankings, especially of recent year, will be different next year as ICCA identifies more meetings living up to its criteria. 

ICCA rankings indicate trends, not 100% statistically accurate numbers

It is estimated that there are approximately 24,000 different association meetings organised on a regular basis. The ICCA Association Database has collected information on approximately 80% of them. A difference in rankings by just a small number of meetings should always be considered with this in mind, and incorporate the fact that a future snapshot will represent different numbers. Nevertheless, the ICCA statistics provide a very good indication of trends; a continuously rising position in the destinations ranking for a couple of years in a row does indicate a reliable trend.


Statistics Planning

The public release date of the new 2018 country and city rankings by number of meetings is Monday 13 May 2019 at noon (CET). To allow members to prepare the release of their new position in the ICCA 2018 rankings, we release the new figures a couple of days earlier under embargo to members only in the Destination Comparison Tool in My ICCA, on Wednesday 8 May. 

On this day, we will send all official ICCA contacts a notification email when the new figures are available. When accessing the new figures a couple of days before the public release date, we kindly ask you to not publicize any news on the 2018 figures before next Monday 13 May at noon (CET), when ICCA will send out an ICCA press release to announce the new country and city top 20 rankings by number of international association meetings. . 

This way we all publish the rankings simultaneously, which avoids creating confusion and gives all members a couple of days to prepare and plan their news releases.

The public abstract with the full 2018 country and city rankings will e published in mid-June.

We are looking forward to seeing - and amplifying - your media coverage!