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The Future of Global Association Meetings - The New Association Reality

ICCA Global Association research reveals importance of partnerships and flexibility of associations and suppliers in a post-COVID world
4 June 2020
Research conducted by ICCA during May 2020, in collaboration with AfSAE (African Society of Association Executives), APFAO (Asia Pacific Federation of Association Organizations) and ESAE (European Society of Association Executives) examined the post COVID-19 strategies and plans of almost two hundred associations around the world.
Amongst the more in-depth results, which are available to ICCA members and the ICCA Association Community and the members of the partner associations, key findings in the research include:
  • 66% believe that COVID-19 will fundamentally change how they operate in the future. 
  • Events are under review by 47% of associations, whilst 43% are reviewing their digital propositions and 42% their membership models. 
  • 84% intend to include hybrid and digital elements to events going forward, with a general opinion that they should lead to increased attendance. 
  • 60% of respondents believe that there are limitations to the ultimate success of virtual events when compared to face to face. 
  • 28% said geographic rotations are under review and likely to change in the future. 
  • 78% would consider the use of a meetings management company going forward. 
  • There is significant opportunity for the supply side of the meetings industry to support clients through increased flexibility and innovation.
ICCA CEO, Senthil Gopinath commented: “Above all it's clear that the COVID-19 situation is dynamic and fast moving. We have gone from what was effectively a complete global shut down in April, to 29% of respondents now saying they believe delegates will travel as long as the right health and safety measures are in place.  This research provides important statistical evidence for the perceptions and opinions many of us already had. It is clear the partnerships between suppliers and associations have become more important than ever, and this is exactly what we are facilitating in our global community of suppliers and associations.  It remains a trying time for our industry but there is hope for all, particularly if we are flexible and work together towards new and creative solutions.”
The report concludes by highlighting the fact that “there is volatility in the market and a need to innovate and create solutions. For the long-term benefit of all we need to work together, we need to work in partnership, we need to be flexible. Venues and destinations must appreciate the financial needs of clients if they are to survive, clients must equally understand that without their long-term support the venues and destinations cannot survive. Working together to identify new strategies, new working practices and new technical solutions is the best way forward for the whole industry. All the respondents clearly accepted and believed that meetings offer big value in terms of both knowledge and finances – and there is an opportunity for that to grow if we all work together for a successful future.”

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About ICCA

ICCA - the International Congress and Convention Association - is the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry.

ICCA is the global association leader for the international meetings industry and specialises in the international association meetings sector, offering unrivalled data, education, communication channels, and business development and networking opportunities. Since its establishment in 1963, ICCA represents the world's top destinations and most experienced suppliers specialised in handling, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events, and comprises of over 1,100 member companies and organisations in almost 100 countries and territories worldwide.

As of 2020 ICCA encompasses all major stakeholders in the world of association meetings, by opening its doors to associations with the launch of the “ICCA Association Community”, offering education, connections, tools and resources to associations to organise more effective meetings.