Conference Destinations Compete With Academic Firepower

Skift Take

This report ranks destinations based on representation in international association leadership. It introduces a “harnessing ratio” as an indicator of how well destinations are leveraging their intellectual capital to attract conventions.

The second edition of the Leveraging Intellectual Capital report was released this week by convention industry consulting firm, GainingEdge. This annual report ranks convention destinations on the number of intellectual leaders that are part of governing bodies of international associations.

London tops the 2021 city ranking, followed by Paris, Tokyo, Beijing and New York. These five cities are the top global knowledge hubs with over 10% of the total intellectual capital. The same five cities topped the 2020 ranking with New York and Beijing swapping places. The U.S. tops the 2021 country rankings, with the UK, France, Germany and Italy rounding out the top five list.

According to the Corporate Finance Institute, Intellectual Capital refers to the value of a company’s collective knowledge and resources that can provide it with some form of economic benefit. It’s also used to identify a firm’s intangible assets and divide them into meaningful categories. In this report, Intellectual Capital is described as a destination’s strength of representation in international association leadership.

“We see intellectual capital engagement as a key to success for a meetings destination. Cities need to explore who are their local leaders with a strong international reputation, and how to engage them,” said GainingEdge CEO Jon Sivertson.

The first edition of the report focused only on board members of international associations organizing meetings with 500 attendees or more. This year’s report was expanded to include those organizing smaller meetings between 200 and 499 attendees, thus enabling destinations to narrow in on smaller meetings in sectors where they are well represented in terms of intellectual capital. “This means that destinations with fewer resources can focus on priority segments and achieve improved results in business development and improve their ‘hubs of excellence’ branding,’” said Milos Milovanovic, Head of GainingEdge Analysis and Research (GEAR).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found a very high level of correlation between the intellectual capital rankings and the same organization’s International Convention Destination Competitive Index 2021 global rankings. The top 20 cities in terms of intellectual capital are all among the top 30 most competitive destinations. 

The report also looks at the correlation between a destination’s intellectual capital and the number of international association meetings hosted. The resulting ratio is referred to as the “harnessing ratio” and can be an indicator of how well destinations are leveraging their intellectual capital to attract conventions. “Our Harnessing Ratio provides a great starting point for assessing how to leverage intellectual capital and what action destinations should take to increase its use,” Sivertson said.

The report recommends that destinations with a low harnessing ratio (below 20 percent) should work more closely with intellectual leaders and improve bidding strategies to attract more conventions. 

On the other hand, those with a high harnessing ratio (above 50 percent) must expand and revitalize their pool of intellectual leaders to ensure continued opportunities for hosting conventions.

All meeting destinations aspire to increase their conversion or bid win rate, Sivertson said, adding that in order to achieve this, destinations should undertake ‘smart’ bid strategies. “A very effective tool is to engage local leaders with a strong reputation to support their bids,” Sivertson concluded.