Stat: Paris Tops Cities for Meetings and Events

ICCA’s annual statistics on the number of rotating international association meetings hosted by countries and cities indicate overall stability. 

Top Cities

Paris held on to the top rank, with Vienna swapping places with Madrid and moving up from three to two, and Berlin and Barcelona swapping places at four and five, respectively. 

London saw what Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, called "a huge number" of global business events, which combined to bring the city’s ranking up to sixth place in 2014, one up from its position in 2013. The city's conference highlights from 2014 include the International Liver Congress, which saw over 10,000 attendees, the European Society of Pathology’s congress, which had a 23 percent increase in attendance compared to 2013, and the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology’s annual congress, which hosted 7,000 delegates in the city. 2015 is poised to be a strong year for ExCeL London, with more ICCA-rated events than ever before, including the European Society of Cardiology, the largest association meeting held in Europe, with around 35,000 medical professionals.

Edinburgh, meanwhile, moved up nine places to 31 in the city rankings, the highest it has reached since 2010. Convention Edinburgh has secured 208 new conference bid wins for the city in 2014-15 that are expected to bring more than 65,000 delegates in the coming years, generating over an estimated £91.5m to the local economy. Recent new bid wins for the city have included the European Society for Clinical Cell Analysis in October 2016 and the International Conference on Ocean Energy in 2016. These two events alone will bring a combined 1,600 delegates, and are estimated to be worth over £2.4M for the local economy. Edinburgh’s Ambassador Programme attracted more than 50 new members in the last year, particularly from Life Sciences and Commerce & Industry. “2014/15 was a crucial year in Convention Edinburgh’s ongoing strategic development, not only in terms of bid win success, but positive client response," Elaine Miller, ambassador and bid manager at Convention Edinburgh said in a statement, citing innovations like the new website and the Delegate Reward Card.  
With regular fighting for position between rival destinations, numerous short-term reasons why space isn’t always available for association meetings and with more meetings still to be discovered by ICCA and its members, these don’t represent any dramatic changes.

Top Countries

The top five countries all remain in that top echelon, with the United States retaining top ranking, Germany and Spain ranking two and three, while the UK and France swap places into fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Germany, once again, performed well in the rankings, and Matthias Schultze, managing director of the German Convention Bureau, noted that of the international association conferences hosted in Germany last year, 8 percent are from the UK and 10 percent are from the U.S. More than 30 percent of international conventions in Germany are in the sector of technology and innovation and 23 percent in medicine and healthcare. This year, Munich is set to host the 18th International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention with 1,000 international participants. Hamburg is will get around 5,000 delegates for Intermodal Europe, and the first Congress of the European Academy of Neurology, with 5,000 expected to attend, will be held next month in Berlin. IEEE is hosting the IEEE/RSJ International Conferences on Intelligent Robot Systems (IROS) in Hamburg this September, and IPA will hold its 17th International Congress in Berlin this October.

Some gains were impressive on a local scale: Estonia, for example, moved up five slots from the previous year's position to reach 44th place globally. The number of association conferences held in the country jumped from 38 to 74 between 2013 and 2014, an increase of nearly 100 percent. The nation's capital, Tallinn, also scored big in the city rankings, moving from 90th place to 46th. The city hosted 54 ICCA conferences last year compared to 27 in 2013. According to the ECB, the improvements can be attributed to destination marketing within the Conference Ambassador Programme and close communication with ECB members when collecting data.

How ICCA Determined the Rankings

“What was striking in this year’s exercise is actually the very large number of meetings we identified over the last twelve months for the year 2013 – more than 600 meetings were identified worldwide, and we’re pretty certain we’ll have equal success in finding more qualifying 2014 meetings over the next twelve months," ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said in a statement. "Most commentators are naturally focusing on the new 2014 rankings, but the nature of this business means that we always continue to identify many qualifying meetings long after each annual announcement. 

"We can’t stress this point strongly enough," he continued. "ICCA’s rankings are a snapshot of a moment in time of a database designed for sales and marketing purposes, for a very specific segment of the market, a segment moreover where decisions are made three to six years in advance. Any destination wishing to accurately present its true performance in the international meetings field needs to complement the ICCA statistics and rankings with its own robust measurement of all meetings business won for the future and hosted in the past year. With our new ICCA Statistics Tool, ICCA members can also now extract data on meetings that are especially important for their destination, for example if they’re primarily interested in meetings of more than 1,000 delegates, or which are related to a particularly important segment of the association market, such as medical sciences – we expect to see many ICCA members communicating their rankings in these specific type of meetings, and not just relying on their position in our overall rankings.”

ICCA’s international association meetings tables are published every year. To be included, meetings must be held on a regular basis, have at least 50 delegates, and rotate between at least three countries.