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International research reveals significant growth in Conference Ambassador Programmes among destinations worldwide

Sue Beverley, Director of CHS Group and Tony Rogers, Managing Director of Tony Rogers Conference & Event Services
Conference Ambassador Programmes have shown signs of growth in almost every corner of the world according to a study by Tony Rogers of Tony Rogers Conference and Event Services and Sue Beverley of CHS Group.
The pair revealed the results from their recent global research into Conference Ambassador Programmes at a conference for UK destinations known as GANG (Great Ambassador Networking Group). The GANG conference was held at Cambridge University last week on Thursday 27th March

The research is the most comprehensive piece of research ever undertaken on the subject with 46 Convention Bureaux and related organisations taking part. The research produced information on volume, value, method of recruitment, key sectors, major wins and benefits to the organisation and Ambassador, as well as identifying potential future trends.

The research showed that there had been an overwhelming 67% increase in destinations interested in running a Conference Ambassador Programme despite a small decrease in staff size and marketing budgets available to support the Programme. Some destinations reported upwards of £10 million pounds worth of economic benefit from relatively small marketing budget investments of just £10 - £20,000.

Other specific findings include:
• Programmes are targeting international association congresses, followed by regional association congresses
• A new area is the development of corporate ambassadors, identified as important by 17 per cent of respondents
• Pharmaceutical, technology and financial services are the key sectors for ambassador programmes • On average, almost 60 per cent of ambassadors are drawn from academia and 30 per cent from hospitals and the medical sector
• Emerging trends include the recruitment of overseas-based ambassadors and the alignment of ambassador recruitment to a destination’s core competencies and principal economic sectors.

Judith Sloane, Deputy Manager at Conference Cambridge, said: "This international research that Sue and Tony have done is vital to the industry. The research that they presented to us at the Conference is really useful to the GANG members as it enables us to understand what our colleagues are doing worldwide and also to disseminate best practice." The research is a follow-up to the 2010 research that Beverley and Rogers carried out.

Sue Beverley explained: “We had responses from every corner of the globe, including Canberra, Sydney, Dubai, Sao Paulo, Vancouver, Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin. It was a fantastic response. From our work with destinations we knew that Conference Ambassador Programmes have grown tremendously over the last 3 – 4 years and this research helps us to work with destinations and identify key success criteria.”

Conference Ambassador Programmes are typically run by convention bureaux and aim to bring Association conferences to a region by working in partnership with key “ambassadors” from businesses, hospitals and universities in that area. They have seen a surge in popularity over recent years as destinations strive to compete for the lucrative Association sector events and recognise the value of working with Ambassadors from their destination to help bid for and secure congresses, conventions and similar events.

Pictured: Sue Beverley, Director of CHS Group and Tony Rogers, Managing Director of Tony Rogers Conference & Event Services

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