The future of ICCA



# tags: ICCA , Associations , Meetings Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) to redefine the association’s priorities.

In doing so, we identified four areas where we believe the association can drive crucial changes. These are inclusion, diversity, legacy, and sustainability. We call them the ‘four pillars’ because all ICCA activities are now bolstered by our efforts to make the industry more inclusive, diverse, and sustainable and to leave a positive legacy.

A future vision is important, but the pandemic also created unforeseen challenges to industry recovery. Here are the ways we are supporting our members today so that together we can build a better tomorrow.

Delivering more value to members

As the association meetings industry returns face-to-face in many parts of the world, we are able to get a more holistic view of the state of the industry. We’ve used this information to create learning and networking opportunities that directly address the feedback and concerns we are hearing from our global community.

While our members are eager to meet in person, they are prioritising events that offer targeted business opportunities and innovative content. As such, we organised business development workshops in Ljubljana, Bordeaux, Stavanger, and Bologna. The workshops offer a small and informal platform for associations and meeting suppliers to share knowledge and forge quality business connections. On a larger scale, ICCA will also offer business opportunities for members during the Global Association Community Forum in Lausanne. ICCA members and association executives will have the opportunity to network in an exclusive setting and have one-to-one business meetings to create meaningful partnerships. Members also benefit from our collaborative approach with other industry leaders. Since healthcare and medical sciences represent the largest sector of the association meetings industry, we teamed up with AC Forum to organise the Future of healthcare meetings event on 6-8 July in Cannes.

ICCA is additionally exploring how the association can deliver more value for members beyond events. For example, by building an online internal knowledge platform and upgrading the ICCA database to reveal deeper insights into business opportunities.

Building a future-ready workforce

Industries worldwide are facing a personnel shortage and the meetings industry is no exception. Many business events professionals found new career paths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, our industry transformed in a very short period of time with new technologies and different ways of working. Consequently, employers must reskill current workers and quickly train new hires.

ICCA anticipated these challenges at the start of the pandemic and began preparing a solution for the knowledge and personnel gap. During IMEX Frankfurt 2022, the association launched ICCASkills, the only global accreditation programme for meeting suppliers. The programme enables those new to the industry to fast-track their business efficacy. Learners also gain best practices and standards that are applicable to any region in the world and developed specifically for post-pandemic business events. The first classes for Certified International Convention Specialists (CICS) and Certified International Convention Executives (CICE) begin in July and August.

Strengthening industry resilience

Meetings are the starting point for solutions that are critical to communities. That’s why it is important that the association meetings industry continues to engage with local leaders and policy makers. We must also diversify our advocacy efforts to ensure our resilience during times of crisis. For example, before the pandemic we focussed primarily on building strong ties with leaders in tourism and aviation. Now we are keenly aware of the impact that decisions from other sectors, such as healthcare, can have on our industry.

Resilience also means showing up and being part of the conversation. We are encouraging the meetings industry to participate in the 61st ICCA Congress in Kraków, Poland on 6-9 November. The congress will be the first to bring our global community to one location since 2019. Attending this event is not only important in terms of business opportunity, it is a chance for our industry to show the world that we are ready to overcome any crisis that comes our way.

© Senthil Gopinath Opinion