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The diversity of the European association market

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Related topics: Association management

Europe remains the most popular region for association meetings

In the last 55 years, Europe has consistently attracted the highest number of association meetings per region, possessing an overall market share of 53.6%. European countries occupy four of the top five places in the 2018 ICCA Country rankings, having also done so in 2017. The top five destinations in the 2018 ICCA City rankings are also from Europe. Currently over 50% of the international association meetings are hosted in European destinations. 

Strong support of ICCA Association Relations Programme from European ICCA Members

Currently, eight leading destinations and venues represent Europe in the ICCA ARP programme, providing strong evidence of Europe’s leading positioning in the international association meetings market and continued commitment to the meetings industry and global ICCA community. 

Those prominent European destinations are helping ICCA to shape the future of the association meetings industry with their knowledge and innovative ideas.   

Key areas of importance to European meeting suppliers

New destination offerings: New, up-and-coming regions and destinations have been emerging over the past 30-40 years as a result of significant political and economic changes. The market is diversifying within the European region as well as on an international scale. These destinations, often second- and third-tier cities, are realising that international association meetings are an essential resource when it comes to national expansion: the knowledge economy is seen as the way forward for economic and societal development. 

The cluster approach: In contrast, to compete on the global market, the bigger, well-established destinations with large networks of suppliers are no longer positioning themselves in terms of which kind of facilities they can offer – although, of course, this does remain crucial to destination appeal! Instead they are using the strengths of local sectors to drive the branding of their destinations, to bring in business via certain clusters of associations, whether regional or international and gain international knowledge and investment for their national economies.  

The value of association meetings is not measured via hotel rooms, but via economic and social impact. A deeper measurement of legacy is considered important in helping newer destinations to stand out in a crowded marketplace.  

Increase in regional meetings: Our European members are collaborating across national borders to attract more association meetings to their respective countries, to strengthen their collaboration by using regional networks to attract more international business to their own countries and regions.  

Smaller meetings are more sustainable, as they grow naturally alongside the demand for a bigger supply chain. Many associations are also nominating ambassadors in their communities to establish regional meetings, one of the many reasons why smaller cities and new European destinations are becoming leading players in the market.  

Open access knowledge transfer: Free movement of people via the Schengen Area makes the transfer of knowledge simpler and quicker. The result: stakeholders in up-and-coming regions can unlock the expertise of the well-established European destinations and other regions of the world. ICCA’s position as a global association allows members in the upand-coming European regions use of our open platform to tap into a global network of knowledge and connections.  

Sustainability: This topic is of increasing concern to our European members. The Global Destination Sustainability Index, which was originally an initiative of ICCA’s Scandinavian Chapter, is now a collaborative partnership between ICCA, European Cities Marketing, IMEX and MCI Group and used by almost 50 destinations worldwide, many of them in Europe.

If you have any queries please contact Elif Baslci Fisunoglu, ICCA Regional Director Europe, on elif.b@iccaworld.org

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