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International association meetings market remains resilient and positive despite tougher financial pressures

The results from the latest survey jointly carried out by ICCA and the IMEX Group into how major international association meetings are faring, continue to paint a positive picture for this most resilient sector in the meetings industry, despite tougher financial pressures.

84 international association hosted buyers who attended the recent 10th IMEX in Frankfurt trade show responded to the survey, 75% of whom organised or will organise meetings for more than 500 delegates in 2012, and almost 15% of whom organise events for over 5,000 delegates. These numbers are approximately the same as previous years.

Relatively strong attendance figures in 2012, still showing growth

Even though the actual and anticipated attendance at association meetings in 2012 is suffering more compared to last year, it continues to be relatively strong: like last year, over 28% of respondents reported higher attendance for their 2012 events than in previous years; 38% indicated no change (53% indicated no change on 2011) and 31% reported slight reductions (compared to 15% who reported slight reductions in 2011) and less than 3% reported a "significant" fall in numbers (which is one percentage point lower than 2011).

Tough financial pressures amid positive future projections

However, the financial pressures are clearly continuing: only 14% reported higher income from sponsors and exhibitions in 2012, 34% showed no change, but the remaining 49% suffered falls in financial support from this side of their budgets.

When asked if the continued global economic turbulence had any negative impact on their association and/or events in 2012, almost 60% answered “yes”. When this question was asked in 2011 this percentage was almost 43%, which means the international association meeting sector has definitely been impacted more since last year.  However, when asked about their projections for 2013, these executives still painted a positive picture: almost 22% of associations will be running more meetings in 2013 than in 2012, while only 11% plan to organise fewer meetings. Over 40% are still projecting higher attendances than in 2012, compared to almost 10% who expect their delegate numbers to fall. These numbers are only slightly lower than last year, which means this regular survey still paints a very positive forward forecast, despite challenging economic conditions.

Education voted good to excellent 

The association meeting buyers who attended this year’s redesigned IMEX in Frankfurt Association Day responded positively to the new education and networking programme,  with over 90% of respondents rating the day’s education either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.  Anecdotal comments also reflected appreciation of the day’s networking opportunities and the chance to learn from other association meeting planners, especially those working in similar sectors and facing similar business issues.  

The next opportunity for association meetings executives to come together for professional education under the IMEX banner will be at Association Focus, which takes place on Smart Monday, Oct. 08 in Las Vegas one day prior to IMEX America.

Meetings industry leaders will also discuss the state of the international association meetings market during the 51st ICCA Congress taking place 20-24 October 2012 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


For more information about the 51st ICCA Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico, visit:

For more information about IMEX please visit:

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