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International associations anticipate strong meetings growth in 2014

Another generally positive performance by association meetings in 2013 has created the foundations for significantly stronger future growth, according to respondents to a survey carried out by IMEX and ICCA amongst the attendees from this year’s IMEX Association Day in Frankfurt.

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

92 international association hosted buyers who attended the recent IMEX trade show in Frankfurt responded to the survey, over 77% of whom organised or will organise meetings for more than 500 delegates in 2013, and more than 17% of whom organise events for over 5,000 delegates. These numbers increased slightly compared to previous years.

Over 32% of the 92 respondents reported higher attendance for their 2013 events than in previous years (4% more than in 2012 and 2011); 37% indicated no change (compared to 38% in 2012); 24% reported slight reductions (compared to 31% in 2012) and less than 7% reported a "significant" fall in numbers (compared to 3% in 2012). 

When asked if the continued global economic turbulence had any negative impact on their association and/or events in 2013, almost 57% answered “yes”. When this question was asked in 2012 this percentage was almost 60%, which means the international association meetings sector has definitely been impacted, but is still showing growth; and slightly more growth than in 2012.

This trend is also illustrated in respondents’ projections for 2014: almost 30% of associations will be running more meetings in 2014 than in 2013 (compared to 22% in 2012), while less than 7% plan to organise fewer meetings (this percentage was 11% in 2012). Almost 47% are projecting higher attendances than in previous year (40% in 2012), compared to almost 9% who expect their delegate numbers to fall (10% in 2012). With all of the main indices showing a year on year rise, the regular survey suggests a positive forward forecast despite continued challenging economic conditions. This trend was confirmed earlier this year with the release of the 2012 ICCA rankings for cities and countries, when ICCA reported another year of continued strength in the international association meetings market.

Martin Sirk, ICCA CEO reacted to the survey findings: “ICCA has been tracking international associations for half a century, so we’re absolutely convinced of the long-term dynamism of this market sector, but obviously the uncertain and volatile financial and economic environment of the last five years has had an impact on delegate numbers and sponsorship support for many association events. It’s great news to see that the sector has regained its optimism, and we anticipate that associations will become increasingly important in every destination’s meetings mix.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group commented: “We have been tracking and working closely with the association sector, together with ICCA, for over 10 years, and even through the economic turbulence of the past few years, the sector has remained resilient and cautiously optimistic. It is good to see the sector continuing this upward trajectory and beginning to display a slightly stronger confidence level. For our exhibitors and for the meetings industry as a whole, this is great news.

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