"66% believe that COVID-19 will fundamentally change how they operate in the future"

5 min reading time

Published on 28/07/20 - Updated on 17/03/22

MICE business

Interview with ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), 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.

How much does MICE tourism weight on European countries ? (incomes, jobs)

The estimated total expenditure of delegates on all international association meetings in Europe in 2019 was over 5.7 Billion USD in 2019, excluding spin-off expenses like economic investments resulting from the international conference.

What were the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic on MICE professionals ? (quantitative and qualitative information/according destinations)

Research conducted by ICCA during May 2020, in collaboration with AfSAE, APFAO, and ESAE 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.

The ICCA 2019 Statistics public abstract also showed the following key trends:

  • In 2019, the estimated total expenditure on all meetings in the ICCA Association Database was almost USD 11 billion - excluding spin-off investments and economic development. This expenditure is mostly missing in 2020.

What were the reactions of MICE professionals ?

The reaction among MICE professionals understandably has fluctuated. From facing unknown territory with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the industry to a complete standstill, to adapting and learning how to use technologies to enable the industry to continue and move forward. MICE professionals have shown a resilience and inspiring outlook with a strong belief that although the industry may not go back to normal, there is an opportunity to make the most of the differences and plan for a different tomorrow.

Are sanitary measures implemented all over Europe?

From our understanding and the discussions we’ve had with many ICCA stakeholders, all necessary health and safety measures are being implemented to ensure the safety of colleagues around the world. The G3 Good Practice Guide jointly produced by AIPC, ICCA, and UFI, identifies and promotes globally emerging standards, protocols, and good practices as a result of the pandemic.

How do you imagine events in the future following the current crisis ?

We expect to see a shift and for more meetings to take the shape of hybrid events, which allows us to continue to meet, whilst potentially extending opportunities to a wider number of participants. Although the situation has shown what can be done using virtual options, the feedback from our members and associations shows there is still a need for face to face. The physical presence, the sense of belonging and the building of trusted relationships when meeting in person is irreplaceable.

ICCA research makes it 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.

For further

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