ICCA captures record number of international association meetings taking place in 2015

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ICCA captured a record number of 12,076 rotating international association meetings taking place in 2015; the largest number of association meetings collected in the year after the meetings took place ever, and 571 additional meetings compared to 2014.

These numbers reconfirm the consistent growth pattern in the association meetings market as identified in ICCA’s 50-year report. The ICCA Association Database now includes 20,000 regularly occurring meeting series, 220,000 meeting editions and 11,500 international associations.

City rankings: Berlin new number one
Berlin climbs 3 places and is the new number one city, at the cost of Paris, which took number one spot last year and is now second. Even though the order is quite different, the top seven is made up of the same cities as last year. Barcelona climbs 2 places and is third and Vienna drops 2 places and is now fourth. London climbs 1 place and is now number five, together with Madrid, which dropped 2 places. Singapore remains seventh. Istanbul climbs 1 place to eighth. Lisbon and Copenhagen are newcomers in the top ten, both climbing 3 places to ninth and tenth respectively.

Table 1: Top 20 city ranking by number of meeting organised in 2015

Rank City # Meetings in 2015 Change in Rank
1 Berlin 195 +3
2 Paris 186 -1
3 Barcelona 180 +2
4 Vienna 178 -2
5 London 171 +1
Madrid 171 -2
7 Singapore 156  –
8 Istanbul 148 +1
9 Lisbon 145 +3
10 Copenhagen 138 +3
11 Prague 123 -1
12 Amsterdam 120 -4
13 Brussels 117 -2
13 Seoul 117 +1
15 Hong Kong 112 +1
16 Bangkok 103 +13
17 Rome 99 +1
18 Dublin 97 +6
19 Beijing 95 -5
Budapest 95 -3

Second tier cities are growing faster
In the city ranking, the “winners” are the cities with the smallest losses, or with a very small growth; new number one city Berlin has only 2 more meetings compared to 2014, while Paris has 28 meetings less than in 2014, Vienna has 24 and Madrid 29 less. Barcelona is 2 down and London is 5 up and Madrid is 29 down.

Since the total number of meetings in 2015 has increased, this means that the meetings are more equally spread out amongst destinations, and relatively smaller, second tier destinations are becoming more and more successful at attracting association meetings.

Country rankings: United Kingdom climbs to number 3
The top 9 countries all remain in that top echelon, with USA retaining top ranking and Germany strengthening 2nd place. United Kingdom climbs 1 place to number three at the cost of Spain which drops 1 place. France, Italy, Japan and China-P.R. retain respectively 5th – 8th place. The Netherlands climbs 1 place, now sharing 8th place with China, and Canada is the only newcomer in the top 10.

Table 2: Top 20 country ranking by number of meeting organised in 2015

Rank Country # Meetings in 2015 Change in Rank
1 U.S.A. 925  –
2 Germany 667  –
3 United Kingdom 582 +1
4 Spain 572 -1
5 France 522  –
6 Italy 504  –
7 Japan 355  –
8 China-P.R. 333  –
Netherlands 333 +1
10 Canada 308 +2
11 Brazil 292 -1
12 Portugal 278 +3
13 Republic of Korea 267 +5
14 Austria 258 -3
15 Australia 247 -2
16 Belgium 216 +4
Sweden 216 -2
18 Turkey 211 +1
19 Denmark 204 +3
20 Switzerland 194 -4

ICCA identified 94 additional international association meetings taking place in the U.S.A. in 2015, 8 additional meetings in Germany and 39 additional meetings in the United Kingdom. Spain dropped 6 and France dropped 11 meetings.

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”
As one of the very few reports which compares destinations’ meetings-related performance on a global scale, the annual ICCA rankings are one of the most eagerly anticipated industry publications. Due to lack of global figures on other meeting segments, they are often mistakenly perceived as the destination rankings for the meetings industry as a whole, even though they only cover a narrow segment of the total meetings market: To be included, meetings must be organised by associations, must be held on a regular basis, have at least 50 delegates, and rotate between at least three countries.

Whilst these ICCA rankings provide some evidence of a city or country’s relative performance, it is only when all data on all the meetings taking place in a destination are considered – corporate, intergovernmental, non-rotating, etc – that a true, complete picture can be seen. ICCA always advises its members to collect their own statistics on all meetings they organise, and provide a full picture on their performance.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk commented: “In an uncertain world with ever increasing business disruption, the stability and continuing long-term growth of international association meetings are encouraging more and more suppliers and destinations to include this market segment in their mix of business. What also remains true is that these are the most complex and long-lead-time meetings to win, requiring excellent research and targeting, top class bidding and presentation skills, and patience.”  

“It’s always risky to draw conclusions from a single year’s data, but it appears that competition is getting tougher for the traditional market leaders, with faster growth outside the top ten positions. This might also reflect a trend we are hearing anecdotally, as many of the top destinations are starting to create their own international meetings, rather than simply bidding for traditional association meetings whenever rotation patterns allow, and these new meetings don’t appear in our data, since they don’t usually rotate between countries.”

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