ICCA Survey Addresses Association Meetings Needs

For the 2023 survey ICCA took a deep dive into some of the more recently added segments, such as sustainability, legacy and DEI.
31st Mar, 2023

ICCA has publicly released the findings of the 2023 survey conducted to explore the Association's Meeting Needs.

The survey was conducted in January 2023, in collaboration with the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE), the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE) and the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations (APFAO) and it follows on from another conducted in March 2022. A total of 177 responses were received globally from across the regions, with most responses coming from Europe, followed by Africa, providing a well-rounded picture of the current and future thinking of associations with regards to their international meetings.

For the 2023 survey, ICCA took a deep dive into some of the more recently added segments, such as sustainability, legacy and DEI. For many associations sustainability is a key strategic priority; not only environmental sustainability, but also in terms of long-term sustainability of associations themselves through diversification of revenue streams and adopting more agile approaches to service delivery.

Comparing the 2022 and 2023 survey results, there seems to be a clear appetite amongst associations to up their game even more through increasing member services, finding new avenues for revenue generation and expanding geographically, forming new partnerships and alliances along the way.

Now that more than half of the associations globally have returned to in-person events, there are still challenges around navigating the ‘best of both worlds’ and finding creative ways in which associations can engage with their communities both digitally and in person, all year round. Several of the respondents have indicated that they are incorporating hybrid events and digital knowledge access into their post-pandemic refined business models, so it is important that such needs are met by the community.

The survey set out to answer five key questions

1. How are associations' strategic priorities changing? 
2. How are association meetings changing?
3. How can meeting suppliers and associations work together to make meetings more  sustainable?
4. What can meeting suppliers do to support associations to address DEI and create positive impacts through their events?
5. How can suppliers help associations achieve their goals? 

Survey key findings

  • Meetings and events are still the largest segment of revenue generation for associations (for 46% of respondents this is the main revenue stream) although there is a growing need for associations to diversify their revenue stream to become more financially sustainable for the future. The survey shares insights into creative approaches for doing so, as well as some great initiatives associations are undertaking to provide year-round in person and digital engagement opportunities for their members.
  • There is a clear trend towards getting events back to in-person format, with 51% of associations indicating that they will hold their largest meeting in 2023 in-person, compared to 41% in 2022 and 14% in 2021.
  • Just under half of the associations are indicating that they will be changing their RFPs in the near future, with the majority indicating that they will be incorporating aspects such as hybrid/digital options, sustainability as well as legacy initiatives.
  • With many associations returning to in person events, the need for support in the production of (virtual) events and integrated digital meeting platforms has dropped drastically. The need for core PCO services has however increased compared to last year, and is now the highest ranking service closely followed by assistance with raising sponsorship and funding for events.
  • The majority of the respondents (83%) are making efforts to work towards more sustainable events and practices. However, we need to be mindful that associations are in different stages of the sustainability journey, with some mentioning advanced and established sustainability strategies, and others acknowledging there is yet a lot to learn. ​​​​​​​
  • Around 80% of respondents indicate that they have a DEI policy in place, or at least are making some efforts to address DEI. Partnerships and collaboration is key in supporting associations in their efforts towards more sustainable and inclusive events.
  • By sharing best practices and experience with peers and with meeting suppliers, as well as engaging with initiatives such as the Net Zero Carbon Events, the whole meetings industry can unite to tackle these challenges together.

Access the survey here

Other Articles

About Us

Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.