“To enable the ICCA community to take concrete form for a week.”

Congress links to ICCA Strategic Plan goals

*Support Strategic Goal #1 by incorporating new business opportunities into the programme (eg new product launches, education on how to use ICCA services; etc).

*Support Strategic Goal #2 by acting as the most important annual platform to illustrate the changing relationship between ICCA members and international association executives from supplier-client to partnership, and to drive cultural change in support of this goal.

*Support Strategic Goal #3 by generating and showcasing new content that will add value to the growing Global Knowledge Hub, including new “white papers” on critical industry topics.

*Support Strategic Goal #4 by providing an advocacy platform for “beyond tourism” impact stories, and to facilitate ICCA members’ own advocacy work.

*Support Strategic Goal #5 by building a reputation as a genuinely world-class event in all aspects of logistics, design, content, engagement, creativity and business outcomes.

Specific objectives:

*Strengthen all areas of member engagement with ICCA and each other, to drive long-term retention and loyalty.

*Communicate ICCA’s unique business culture (global, open and sharing, business oriented, etc) through the delegate experience, to shape future member behaviour.

*Enable each delegate to meet their individual business objectives and to maximise their personal ROI from attending.

*Create the world’s most important annual platform for success in the international association meetings sector (business exchange/development as well as knowledge-related).

*Create the best possible opportunity for local ICCA hosts to demonstrate their expertise and their destination’s appeal.

*Use the Congress to advance ICCA’s global development, short and long-term, including acting as a platform for recruitment of new members.

*Exceed both financial and quality targets on a regular basis.

*Create an event that members can be proud of in terms of professionalism, inspiration, educational value, and business opportunities.

Delegate experience matrix

This sets out the feelings we want the delegates to experience, the mood we want to create, and the behaviour we want to encourage. 

These guidelines are used for deciding whether new elements should be added to the Congress mix (ie will the change enhance the right sort of behaviour and reinforce a positive mood?), to remind staff how to influence delegates throughout the Congress, and as a briefing aid to help speakers and moderators better understand our objectives.  There are six major categories (to connect, challenge, grow, enjoy, own, deconstruct), most of which have sub-categories, some of which appear in more than one major category.

To Connect

To belong; to empathise; to immerse; to move around; to reach out; to share.

We encourage delegates to sit with people they don’t know; encourage shy people to speak up; push them to think about other people’s perspectives and cultures.

To Challenge

To imagine; to stretch; to explore; to empathise.

We encourage delegates to challenge your own views; push them outside their day-to-day thinking; create new scenarios for them to imagine; introduce experimentation.

To Grow

To stretch; to reach out; to plan for the future; to learn; to remember.

We create time for delegates to write up action points at the end of the sessions; encourage them to undertake further study or refer them to additional resources.

To Enjoy

To talk; to smile; to share; to “smorgasbord”; to immerse.

Learning should be fun, even (especially?) if it requires effort; we remind delegates to smile; encourage laughter; encourage “intellectual snacking”.

To Own

To plan for the future; to commit; to share; to remember

We believe it is the delegate’s responsibility to create their own successful Congress: we encourage them to take ownership of their outcomes; remind them that great ideas are useless unless they are turned into action; if an idea from the session they attend isn’t directly relevant to their job, then who in their team back home could benefit?

And….To Deconstruct

This is almost unique to ICCA: we can show and share more of the inside workings of our Congress because most of our delegates are meeting professionals, so should want to understand how and why we do things the way we do!  If an organiser’s objective in designing an “ordinary” conference could be metaphorically described as “a swan gliding effortlessly across a silvery lake”, the ICCA Congress is “that same elegant swan, but with everyone able to see the webbed feet paddling like crazy below the surface”!


Governance/operational functions of the association

Management & Finance Committee and Board meetings (including preparation; director input/verbal reports; facilitation; communication of key messages).

General Assembly (including management of voting; production; scripts).

Chapter and Sector meetings (including preparation; on-site support).

Event logistics

Registration, information, financial services.

Programme timetable management.

Liaison/coordination with Local Host Committee team.

Protocol management.

Volunteer management.

Student programme.

Speaker/moderator liaison and management.

Technical liaison and management (Congress App, AV, Production, WiFi, etc)

Business Partner support (eg IMEX Lunch, CAT Night); sponsor liaison.

Next year’s destination team support to observe “behind the scenes”.

Education for members

Educate members to use the full range of ICCA tools and services (group and one-on-one sessions).

Educate members about the full range of existing and forthcoming benefits (group and one-on-one sessions).

Educate members about the latest trends in the international association meetings sector, including client behaviour/thinking and supplier best practices.

Provide inspiring insights and business ideas from within the ICCA community.

Provide inspiring insights and business ideas from outside the ICCA community (including beyond the meetings industry).

Provide opportunities for delegates to experience innovative and experimental meeting design concepts.

Provide opportunity for members to earn CMP credits.

Assist members to gain business and/or competitive advantage

Facilitate an extensive Business Exchange exercise throughout the Congress.

Promote participation in future Business Exchanges to non-participants, so that long-term participation increases.

Create and facilitate opportunities for members to sell to other members (eg User Group meetings; Expert Advice Appointments/Brain Dates; sponsorship packages; ICCA advertising channels).

Operate consultancy service (through Expert Advice Appointments/Brain Dates and direct staff-member advice meetings).

Facilitate meetings between international association attendees and members who are interested in their events.

Encourage members to set up new consortia or partnerships; provide space in programme for meetings of interested parties (eg Fringe Meeting period).

Key selling period for ICCA advertising (publications and online), to position ICCA as best sales channel to association clients.

Deepen engagement with ICCA

Ensure any ICCA query can be expertly answered by the appropriate staff.

Plan and run “ritual” elements in Congress programme, designed to make delegates feel a sense of belonging.

Provide high-profile showcase to celebrate member expertise and/or success (eg Best Marketing Award; Incredible Impacts; Moises Shuster Award).

Run First Time Attendee session; manage engagement of first timers throughout Congress.

Recruitment and support of mentors.

Proactive system to pick up negative feelings on any aspect of the Congress, to be fed back to management or Events Team for immediate remedial action.

Obtain detailed feedback on specific ICCA products, services and publications, especially when launching or upgrading (group and one-on-one).

Extensive social media programme throughout run-up, during and after Congress (detailed statistics and full report available on this issue).

Proactive individual engagement with “shy members” throughout Congress.

All Regional Directors have individual schedules for meetings with as many members from their regions as possible.

All staff have instructions to proactively widen their circles of friendship with members at all networking times.

High level meetings with national delegations.

Various activities and techniques used throughout Congress to encourage members to widen their personal circles of trust with other members.

ICCA staff are educated (both in sessions and during conversations with members) about the business models and challenges facing our disparate global community, so that they can become more effective advisers for members in the future.

Promote ICCA to wider audiences

Run extensive PR and social media programme throughout Congress, aimed also at non-attendees.

Individual media support (eg Presidential interviews).

Record face-to-face video endorsements.

Encourage Observers to join ICCA.

Build relationships with other industry organisations

Collaborative activities/meetings with ASAE, JMIC, EIC, PCMA, IAPCO, Destinations International, Site, etc.



Raise donations for ICCA Education Fund (most important single fundraising week).

Raise donations for local charity; promote ICCA’s CSR credentials and sustainability practices.

Staff roles:

The vast majority of staff attending the Congress are there primarily to meet the wider objectives of the Congress, but also provide vital logistical support.  Only the four members of the Events Team (+ one trainee) could be said to be primarily concerned with the logistics, and even they are also involved in community building and engagement objectives, especially during the evenings.

The delegates should feel that the ICCA community is taking concrete form in front of them, that the Congress “is ICCA”, and that the staff are a key component within that community, not outside service providers.  It is also important that this is how the staff themselves feel, so that the community atmosphere is authentic.

The Congress is the time when members are most aware of ICCA and its value, when they are most likely to ask questions about ICCA and its services, when they are most open to test-drive products, and when they are most likely to be critical and vocal about their needs.  At this time it is vital to demonstrate our ability to provide answers and solutions, to prove our expertise, and to build confidence that we understand members’ business challenges.  This can only be done if the most appropriate staff are present and able to respond immediately and expertly, something that most often has to be done one-on-one.

The Congress is also the time when the majority of ICCA’s big projects and initiatives have their origins, or when they are moved significantly forward, and having expert staff present to participate in these discussions helps to shape them and bring them to reality. 

We are encouraging associations to let us know if they have similar documents which demonstrate their Congress philosophy as outlined above. Please email a copy to Ksenija Polla, CMP.