When It Comes to Bidding on a Meeting Location, Strategy Matters More Than Looks

A city’s aesthetic appeal and attendee experience are far less important than achieving an organization’s mission when choosing a meeting location, according to attendees at a recent International Congress and Convention Association workshop.

When it comes to choosing a location for international meetings, associations care more about strategy than aesthetics or financial support.

This finding was revealed in Amsterdam last week during a workshop hosted by the International Congress and Convention Association, which represents almost 1,000 member companies and organizations.

In a poll of association leaders, 75 percent said that when it comes down to it, strategy, or achieving an association’s mission, would be the final deciding point in a close bidding competition among different locations. Fourteen percent said they would consider a destination’s appeal and attendee experience as a final decision factor, and 12 percent said they would consider the level of financial support.

The findings from the #AssociationBidding workshop didn’t quite match up with a previous online survey ICCA conducted, which showed that 100 percent of the convention-bureau representatives of the top-20 cities for international meetings felt that associations are more concerned with their bottom lines than they were five years ago.

The importance of strategy in location bidding demonstrates a move away from emotional decision making, according to ICCA CEO Martin Sirk.

“Our panel agreed that in the old days, the bidding process used to be all about the appeal of the destination and winning bids by playing into the emotions of the decision makers,” Sirk said in a statement. “In the last 10 years, the decision-making process for choosing association meeting destinations has changed from emotional to rational, but the final decision is still heavily influenced by trust and relationships.”

Suppliers should also not underestimate the importance of data when approaching meeting planners and association leaders.

“Big Data has changed our business,” Juan Jose Garcia, first vice president and treasurer of the ICCA board of directors, said in a statement. “We know a lot about associations and association executives before we approach them.”

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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