The Future of Global Association Meetings - The New Association Reality

4 June 2020


The future of global association meetings - The New Association RealityResearch 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. 
  • Event and sponsorship revenue sources are under review by 55% of associations, whilst 49% are reviewing 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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