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Industry Associations Announce New Research, Events, Partnerships and Award Winners

IMEX Frankfurt show floor

Skift Take

Industry associations have been busy developing research, launching events, forming partnerships and recognizing current and future industry leaders.

A veritable who’s who of industry associations leveraged their presence at IMEX Frankfurt 2024 to announce research, events, partnerships and award winners. With the events world focused on IMEX Frankfurt, the battle for the media’s attention was on. Here are some of the major announcements that caught our attention.

Tracking the Recovery of Business Events

The Events Industry Council (EIC) shared findings from its Q1 2024 Global Business Events Barometer. The latest results suggest that recovery may be slower and more uneven than the sustained growth in 2023. The first quarter’s hotel group room nights index sits at 99, the equivalent of 99% of 2019. This represents a slight drop from previous quarters, which surpassed 2019 levels.

Meanwhile, the RFP activity index sits at 87%, a slight increase from previous quarters but far from 2019 levels. Regional breakdown shows a significant shortfall in Western Europe at 66% and Central and Eastern Europe at 56%. The report also notes that RFP activity surged for large and medium events, reaching 105% of 2019 levels. However, RFP activity for small events declined slightly, going from 84% to 82% of 2019 levels.

The EIC also recently released regional reports with more detailed breakdowns of business events in seven regions. The organization, a federation of industry associations, also announced a year-long research project. The research will focus on emerging issues and trends shaping the events industry in the coming years. The work will culminate with a comprehensive Futures Landscape Report, to be released in Q4 2024. The Future Landscape project will cover political and geopolitical issues, economic trends, technology, safety and security, and environmental impact. The project is supported by EIC’s APEX Critical Issues Working Group, led by ALHI President and CEO Michael Dominguez.

Understanding the Impact of Incentive Travel

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), along with research partner Oxford Economics, are now seeking input for the seventh edition of the Incentive Travel Index (ITI). The index will continue to explore incentive travel and its impact on corporations, agencies and the supply chain in destinations.

“This year, with vital input at the design stage from our global community, we’re going deeper with some lines of enquiry, providing more detail and clarity in the survey questions. While the survey will continue to pose the perennial questions around who, how, where and why, it will also focus on today’s emerging themes and the impact for incentive travel now, and in the future, of AI and technology; diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, as well as sustainability; geo-political instability; workplace changes; and inflation,” said Annette Gregg, CEO of SITE.

The ITI survey is live between until July 25 and is available here in English and Spanish. The two industry associations will present findings from the report at IMEX America in October 2024.

Dublin Hosts New Destination Leadership Event

Destinations International (DI) launched a new event, the DI Global Leaders Forum, scheduled for Dublin, Ireland, from February 11-13, 2025. This is DI’s first hosting a global gathering outside North America. The invitation-only event seeks to provide peer-to-peer engagement among industry leaders, foster networking opportunities and reinforce the value of the DI global community.

Greg Clark, a renowned urbanist and advisor on city development, is confirmed keynote speaker. Also on stage will be Adrian Cooper, CEO of Oxford Economics.

DI selected Dublin as the event’s host city for its rich history and business-friendly environment. ”Dublin is the perfect location to host our inaugural global forum. Its vibrant blend of tradition and innovation, along with its role as a global connector, exemplifies the spirit of this event,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of DI.

Collaboration Shapes New Event Sustainability Conference

The previously announced collaboration between PCMA and the Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe (SANCBE) has a new name: Convene 4 Climate. The two-day event is confirmed for 2-3 October in Barcelona. It will be co-located and follow this year’s edition of PCMA Convening EMEA.

The invite-only event will feature a workshop-based environment. It “aims to drive responsibility, harness the power of technology, and deliver transformative solutions to address the persistent challenges of climate change.”

“Now is the time to embark on this transformative journey to reimagine the future, inspire sustainable progress, and ignite a movement towards a more resilient tomorrow,” said Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO at PCMA and CEMA.

Part of the event will be held at NTT Data’s headquarters, a new, sustainably built and managed office building. The building houses the company’s 4,000 staff and recently received LEED platinum certification, with the highest score in its category in Europe.

The event targets a diverse and influential community of sustainability leaders. Organizers ask those interested in participating to express their interest.

Partnerships Breaking New Ground

ICCA announced a partnership with UN Tourism (previously UNWTO) earlier this month. In this partnership, UN Tourism recognizes ICCA as its partner for business events across all UN Tourism platforms and initiatives. ICCA heralded the partnership as a recognition of the influence and transformative potential of the business events industry and a key driver for socio-economic progress worldwide.

“This collaboration with the UN Tourism has been a long-held strategy of ICCA,” said ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath. “We have much to share and much to learn. May this announcement mark the beginning of something quite remarkable,” he added. 

“The partnership between UN Tourism and ICCA recognizes the growing economic importance of business events for our sector,” said UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvil. He added that Pololikashvili will open the ICCA Congress 2024 in Abu Dhabi in October. “With this new partnership, we look forward to shaping a more sustainable and resilient future for the business tourism sector,” he added.

ICCA also announced a new partnership with the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) and the Costa Rica Convention Center. A joint 3-year project will focus on creating concrete initiatives and tools for the meetings and events industry. These include a sustainable tourism certification and a carbon offset calculator.

Launching the partnership, the ICT offset the carbon emissions from travel to Frankfurt for attendees of the ICCA Plenary meeting. ICCA plans to name additional sustainability partners that meet specific requirements.

Industry Associations Recognize Rising Stars and Industry Stalwarts

Awards are one of IMEX Frankfurt’s long-standing traditions for industry associations. Celebrating worth award recipients is the focus of the IMEX Awards and Gala Dinner.

Most industry associations recognize some of their most accomplished members for their efforts. The exception is Meeting Professionals International (MPI), which chose to spotlight aspiring new talent. The talent, in this case, was the winner of the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum International University Challenge. Hlolohelo Zwane from Tshwane North College in South Africa, was the recipient of the MPI Foundation Student Scholarship Award.

Paul Kelly, Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, received the second-ever Destinations International Global Ambassador Award. DI highlighted Kelly’s spearheading of the destination’s recovery, which has set industry benchmarks, and his commitment to sustainable tourism practices. Kelly was commended for his role in transformative tourism projects such as the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East. 

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) presents its International Excellence Award to the Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Exposition/CCPIT Chengdu Sub-Council. The award recognized the organization’s advancing IAEE’s Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) Learning Program in China. More than 1,600 exhibitions and events professionals in the region have earned their CEM designation.

Susan Sarfati, CEO of High-Performance Strategies, received the inaugural Global Association Visionary Award from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). The award recognized Sarfati’s commitment and service in advancing and elevating the global visibility and impact of the association profession.

The International Association of Professional Congress Organizers (IAPCO) announced Claire Smyth, Director of Sales and Marketing at Conference Partners International (CPI), as the recipient of the 2024 IAPCO Innovation Award. IAPCO commended Smyth’s work around the One Young World Summit 2023 held in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The event celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, a pivotal moment in the region’s peace process. Her use of street art empowered delegates to create a legacy beyond the event’s economic impact.

Marie Hunter, Managing Director of Conferences, Events & Experiences (IEEE), received this year’s ICCA Global Influencer Award. ICCA highlighted Hunter’s transformative initiatives, which have significantly expanded the organization’s virtual event product line. IAEE commended Hunder, the executive producer and founder of the association’s annual premier event, IEEE Convene. She was recognized for her leadership in driving cross-cultural business development and emergency response, which has set new standards in the industry.

The Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) announced Peter King, chair of the Australian Business Events Association (ABEA), as the recipient of the 2024 Unity Award. Through this award, JMIC highlights King’s significant role in forming a unifying national body. The body now represents the sector with a single voice to drive awareness and building support for the industry.

Padraic Gilligan, chief marketing officer at SITE, received the Jane E. Schuldt SITE Master Motivator Award. Gilligan, who played several at IMEX, including emceeing the Exclusively Corporate program, has held various volunteer leadership roles at SITE, including president, before becoming a staff member. This award recognizes his work on many SITE initiatives, particularly SITE’s signature research project with the IRF, the Incentive Travel Index.

This year’s IMEX EIC Innovation in Sustainability Award went to TED Conferences for the organization’s TED Countdown Summit in Detroit last year. The event brought together nearly 800 business executives, scientists, policymakers and the next generation leaders to address the climate crisis. The jury praised the event’s innovative approach to embedding legacy aims and ambitious sustainability goals.

It wasn’t just the industry associations that recognized industry leaders. IMEX recognized three more individuals for their commitment to the industry and pushing boundaries awarding them each a Paul Flackett IMEX Academy Award. The award, named in tribute to IMEX’s former managing director, went to Frank Murangwa, director of destination marketing at Rwanda Convention Bureau; Bonnie Carlson, president & CEO of Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Christoph Tessmar, director of Barcelona Turisme.

Photo credit: IMEX / IMEX