The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) is releasing new information to shed more light on how the pandemic affected the association meetings industry in 2021. The public summary of the ICCA annual statistics report is now available to those who are not ICCA members after one year. -year break. Due to the transformative events of 2020, ICCA refined its focus of the report by including meetings that were affected by the pandemic, as well as those that were not affected. Now, non-ICCA members can also benefit from this new methodology, called the Destination Performance Index (DPI), which provides a more holistic view of how destinations have tackled recent challenges.
Additionally, Public Abstract features the top destinations for association meetings in 2021, based on estimated total number of attendees for hybrid and virtual events. It also provides a three-year economic impact analysis, which is generally not available to non-ICCA members.
“We think it is very important that the world has a clearer picture of how the global association meetings industry has transformed over the last two years. By delivering a summary of ICCA’s annual statistics report to the public once again, we are acknowledging the tremendous effort that destinations and meeting providers have made to adapt and even thrive through the challenges of the pandemic,” said Senthil Gopinath. ICCA Executive Director.
The DPI examines 8,000 international association meetings scheduled for 2021, based on six performance indicators (planned, unaffected, virtual, hybrid, digitization and business continuation). When combined, the indicators represent overall DPI, highlighting destinations’ performance with respect to winning the original offer, COVID policies, adaptability, and technology capabilities to convert in-person events to virtual/hybrid events.
Destinations demonstrate resilience, adaptability
The countries and cities represented in the top 20 meeting destinations in 2021 are similar to the 2019 report, with a few exceptions. As in 2019, the US is the best performing country for association meetings in the DPI, ranking first in four of the six indicators (planned, virtual, digitization, and business continuation). The remaining two indicators, unaffected and hybrid, were led by Spain and China-PR, respectively. Vienna and Lisbon were close contenders in the DPI for cities, but Vienna ultimately claimed the lead due to having more unaffected meetings in 2021.
Overall, Europe performed strongly as an association meeting destination during the pandemic. Seventy percent of the top 20 countries and 80% of the top 20 cities are European. Denmark and Greece replaced Argentina and Brazil in the top 20 countries for meetings. Austria made the biggest jump, from 16th to 11th place. Italy claimed fifth place from the UK. Spain jumped two places since 2019 to become the second destination for meetings worldwide.
Facing stricter COVID policies than many other meeting destinations around the world, China PR, Japan, and the Republic of Korea all embraced new technology to go hybrid. In fact, due to its large number of hybrid meetings, the Republic of Korea replaced the Netherlands among the top 10 country destinations.
Among destination cities, Montreal (19) and Dubai (21) were outliers within their respective regions. Montreal was the only North American city in the top 20. Dubai ranked first for unaffected meetings and was the only Middle Eastern city represented in all six individual Top 20 rankings. Meanwhile, Budapest, Porto, and Stockholm are all newcomers to the top 20 DPI for cities.
“With this public summary of our annual statistics report, we also aim to make a case for the meetings industry and the positive effects association meetings have on destinations. It is crucial that our global community strengthen ties with each other and with industries like aviation and healthcare. Association meetings create jobs and boost local economies. Furthermore, they are vital for international knowledge sharing and problem solving,” said Gopinath.
The full ICCA annual statistics report, available only to ICCA members, contains additional analysis on top destinations, economic impact, regional/global business continuation and meeting topics.