The IMEX fair in Frankfurt provided an opportunity to present a number of firsts. On 23 May, in the time and place where the international meetings and events industry meets in person, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) announced to the general public its statistical report for 2022.
After two years of absence, we saw a triumphant return of the annual Country and City Rankings. The previous version of the report, published by ICCA on 27 May 2021, did not feature the ranking of regions. Rather than that, it showed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the meetings of associations around the world. It was also a tool to lead the meetings industry out of the crisis.
ICCA Ranking Report
In addition to the one prepared by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the ICCA report is considered to be one of the most important rankings in this area. It is a benchmarking tool for the congress and conference potential of business destinations, allowing to identify competitive gaps and advantages when looking to find a host for a particular event. The ICCA database also provides information on the needs of individual organisers and makes it possible to prepare customised bid books.
The publication of the current report coincides with the recent declaration by the World Health Organisation, which states that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, thereby emphasising the return to normalcy for the association meetings industry.
ICCA strongly believes that statistics exist to tell a story, and therefore we offer our members various tools to do this in a comprehensive way. There is not a single country in which the pandemic did not affect at least one scheduled meeting in 2022. The ICCA Database displays the status of each meeting, and in the relevant cases, shows the reasoning behind the organiser’s decision not to run a meeting in-person.
At the end of 2022, ICCA made the proactive decision to revert to normal rankings again based on the observation that approximately 85% of all meetings were held in-person. Of course, some countries and territories continued to operate under COVID-19 restrictions.
In a joint effort with dedicated ICCA members, our Research team identified more than 10,500 meetings, of which about 9,000 were held in person, being either unaffected by COVID-19 or held in a hybrid format. As the association meetings industry is still catching up to the numbers of the last pre-pandemic year (13,254 meetings in 2019), we conducted a brief country and city comparative analysis based on rankings rather than a number of meetings. In addition, we will provide context to in-person versus planned meetings showing how these statistics can be best utilised.
“This is a tremendous undertaking by our team, one that is most welcomed by our members because the ICCA Country – and City – Rankings always generate huge industry interest. It’s heartening to see the drive towards in-person meetings is once more very strong and we predict this trend will grow throughout the coming year”, said Senthil Gopinath, ICCA CEO.
Among the continents, as much as 54% of the association meetings took place in Europe in 2022, 18% in Asia, 11.7% in North America and 8.9% in South America.
Over 40% of the meetings took place in hotels, 29.7% in university facilities and 19.8% in trade fairs and congress centres.
The largest number of meetings were held in:
- medical sciences (16.8%)
- technology (14.1%)
- science (13.5%)
- education (6.4%)
- industry (6.2%)
Ranking of countries
On a global scale, the United States once again triumphed among the most popular conference and congress organisers (Top 100 list) with 690 meetings (previously, there were a lot more, 934, but this is pre-pandemic data). Spain (528 meetings) took second place, and Italy (522), which rose in the rankings ahead of both Germany (484 meetings) and France (472), came in third.
The ranking of world cities names 326 items, which together with cities categorised as “other” (hosting fewer than 5 meetings) held 9,093 association meetings in 2022. Vienna (162 meetings), Lisbon (144 meetings) and Paris (134 meetings) lead among cities. The top ten also featured Barcelona, Prague, Madrid, Berlin, Athens, Brussels and London. The first non-European city – 13th in the ranking – was the city of Singapore (101 meetings).
Poland in the ranking
The reputation of the country as a destination is built on its inclusion in international statistics, the place of cities in rankings and competitions, the membership of representatives of the sector in the authorities of specialised organisations or the location of “branches” of international associations/organisations in Poland. An active presence of Polish institutions and their representatives in the international arena, as well as the transfer of knowledge, technology and innovation, are also essential for the reputation.
The war in Ukraine, although certainly not conducive to tourism, allowed Poles to show themselves from the best side. After all, Polish hospitality is not only a surge of help for Ukrainian citizens, but also our everyday life and tradition, which is also reflected in the food, hotel and cultural offer.
The effects of the war in Ukraine on the tourism and business industries can be felt differently in different places. Despite a good reputation, intellectual potential, excellent trade fair and conference facilities and many years of work with associations of such congress cities as Poznań and Katowice, only 4 cities from Poland have been included in the ICCA 2022 ranking. These are:
- Warsaw (ranked #30 with 52 meetings)
- Kraków (ranked #39 with 42 meetings)
- Gdańsk (ranked #164 with 12 meetings)
- Wrocław (ranked #186 with 10 meetings)
Other cities provided an additional 18 meetings for Poland. As a result, Poland came in 23rd globally, having hosted 134 meetings. Czechia was ranked 20th with 146 meetings, Hungary ranked 33rd (79 meetings) and Slovakia ranked 67th (17 meetings).
Poland: 161 meetings planned – 134 implemented
Making decisions regarding the organisation of meetings in companies and institutions commissioning their organisation is a decision on the market of institutional buyers, so it is deeply thought out and implemented after a thorough market analysis. The tendency to organise meetings is influenced by both endogenous factors, i.e.: demographic, environmental, socio-cultural, economic, institutional and technological ones, as well as by the process of globalisation, and by exogenous factors (new technologies, human capital).
Poland has kept a relatively stable position in the ICCA ranking thanks to the efforts in collecting required information on events meeting ICCA conditions, which was possible thanks to the cooperation of the Poland Convention Bureau PTO with the municipal and regional convention bureaux and the professional congress organisers recommended by the PTO. In addition, without the involvement of representatives of Polish science in the labour-intensive and often long application process, our cities would not be among the world’s centres of business tourism, in order to compete with other places for hosting events.
A full overview of the total number of scheduled meetings (only those that have eventually taken place) in 2022 by destination is available in ICCA Business Analytics. Here is an alphabetical listing of the TOP 40 destinations:
What criteria does ICCA adopt?
The ICCA statistical report is prepared based on data concerning ICCA meetings collected from convention bureaux, conference facilities, hotels and associations themselves. To be considered, the meetings must meet three conditions:
- they should be held regularly
- have a minimum of 50 participants
- migrate between at least three countries.
This means that conferences that have already been held in Poland will not be obtained in the near future, and the pool of associations that decide to hold their meetings in our country changes every year.
The statistics show a certain current state of affairs, but it is the result of promotional and sales activities that took place 3-4 years ago, as this is usually the time between the announcement of the competition for the destination of the event and the event actually taking place. The results of these competitions are usually a consequence of the internal policies of the associations and the activities of local ambassadors supported by the convention bureaux.
ICCA is one of the oldest meeting industry associations operating in almost 100 countries around the world, representing more than 1100 companies and organisations involved in the preparation and coordination of meetings, transport and accommodation. For more than 50 years, it has been collecting and analysing data as well as creating communication channels for international business meetings.
The Polish Tourism Organisation has been a member of the ICCA since 2002, i.e. since the moment the Poland Convention Bureau was established. Among other things, the PCB PTO is responsible for annual reporting to the ICCA of events that took place in our country.
Photo.AK - Premiere of the ICCA Report at the ICCA Plenary meeting on May 22 this year. in Frankfurt