Moving beyond business as usual

Expert Opinion
Moving beyond business as usual

ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath says the global meetings industry is transforming as a meta industry

Senthil Gopinath

The sentiment as we wrap up the first half of 2022 is “We’re back”. International business travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels and long-awaited reunions with business partners and colleagues are finally happening.

I was fortunate to have attended the 20th IMEX in Frankfurt, where the industry’s excitement was palpable. ICCA also held its plenary in Frankfurt to announce its key 2022 activities and hear feedback from members. Record attendance and super engagement by the community was clearly evident at the plenary titled ‘ICCA Global Conversations – What’s the new order of the industry’.

Our global community is enthusiastic about our future outlook. As we meet face-to-face, we are able to more easily share our concerns and co-create new strategies. ICCA is facilitating many more opportunities for meeting and learning together across Europe including the Future of healthcare meetings, a joint ICCA and AC Forum event, 6-8 July in Cannes, and business workshops in Bordeaux, Stavanger, and Lausanne.

Additionally, ICCA will have a booth and host member-exclusive events at IMEX America, IBTM Barcelona, and IBTM Americas. Early Bird registration is also open for the 61st ICCA Congress in Kraków, Poland, 6-9 November. The congress will be the first to bring our global community to one location since 2019 and we are planning a truly unmissable programme.

One of the most important aspects of all of ICCA’s events is the opportunity to build new partnerships. This is an ideal moment for meeting suppliers to present associations with innovative and future-forward ways of doing business.

A recent ICCA survey of international associations found that forming effective partnerships with meeting suppliers was very important to more than half of the respondents.

Associations also prioritised suppliers that could support their sustainability strategies. Another positive finding was that 62% of respondents have already been able to meet again in-person. Additionally, 41% of the associations said they are planning their largest meeting in 2022 with an in-person format; up from only 14% in 2021.

On the other hand, fully virtual events are declining, from 56% in 2021 to 12% in 2022. Associations continue to emphasise a need for flexible contract terms with their business partners.

ICCA is further supporting meeting suppliers with the new ICCASkills global accreditation programme. Our first classes for Certified International Convention Specialists (CICS) and Certified International Convention Executives (CICE) begin in July and August.

ICCASkills meets an industry demand for comprehensive professional development that benefits all sectors, regions, and career levels. It offers high-quality courses in understanding markets and trends, bidding, venues, PCOs, destination management and marketing and measuring ROI, sustainability and crisis management. Crucially, learners will gain best practices and standards that are applicable to any region in the world and developed specifically for post-pandemic business events.

Coming back together after such a long time of isolation certainly feels like a return to normal. However, we must remember that our future success will require us to move beyond business as usual. ICCA encourages the industry to take advantage of the education and networking opportunities that will help us build a stronger industry for tomorrow with new strategies and business models.

We must not forget some of the most important aspects where our industry can contribute, such as sustainability, legacy and global socio-economic development. Such contributions will make our industry a meta industry.

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