Association meetings are perhaps less glamorous than corporate events, but they are the cornerstone of the industry: unlike events promoted by companies, which are dictated by budgetary issues and economic trends, they represent a stable source of business, which generates significant volumes in terms of participants and delegate attendance days. They also constitute a considerable source of induced economic activity for the regions that compete to host them.
The report Conferences: the associations’ viewpoint, produced by Meeting Consultants, looks into the basic criteria according to which associations choose destinations for their events and what destinations can do to increase their chances to win them. The Italian consultancy specialising in destination marketing and training for the meetings industry interviewed 40 representatives of Italian associations connected to international organisations operating in a variety of fields: medicine, trade, industry, finance, pharmaceuticals, energy, agriculture, sport and leisure, voluntary work, tourism and transport.
Factors in choosing a destination
According to the report, the accessibility of the destination and the conference venue, i.e. the existence or otherwise of an efficient transport system, is the first factor that an association considers when choosing where to organise its conference. In second place is the venue, in relation to which they assess the spaces, equipment and quality of service, with the issue of price only coming in third. The other factors that influence the decision are the availability of hotels of an appropriate standard near the conference venue, the benefits offered by the destination, the existence of an efficient convention bureau, the destination’s general appeal, the presence in the region of centres of excellence relating to the conference topics and, finally, the city’s reputation as an events destination.