meetingsThe DPI examines 8,000 international association meetings scheduled for 2021 based on six performance indicators (planned, unaffected, virtual, hybrid, digitalisation, and business continuation).

“With this Public Abstract of our annual statistics report, we also aim to advocate for the meetings industry, and the positive effects association meetings have on destinations.

Additionally, the Public Abstract presents the top destinations for association meetings in 2021, based on the estimated total number of attendees for hybrid and virtual events.

The full report ICCA Annual Statistics report, available only to ICCA members, contains additional analysis on the top destinations, economic impact, regional/global business continuation and meeting subject matters.

The countries and cities represented in the top 20 meeting destinations in 2021 are similar to the 2019 report, with a few exceptions.
The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) is publicly releasing new information to shed more light on how the pandemic impacted the association meetings industry in 2021. When combined, the indicators represent the overall DPI, highlighting how destinations have performed concerning winning the original bid, COVID policies, adaptability, and technological capabilities to convert on-site events into virtual/hybrid events. As of 2019, the USA is the top performing country for association meetings in the DPI as they ranked 1st in four of the six indicators (planned, virtual, digitalisation, and business continuation).

“We believe it’s important that the world has a clearer sense of how the global association meetings industry has transformed during the past two years. In delivering an abstract of ICCA’s Annual Statistics report to the public again, we are recognising the tremendous effort that destinations and meeting suppliers have made to adapt and even thrive through pandemic challenges,” said Senthil Gopinath, CEO, ICCA. Due to the transformational events of 2020, ICCA refined its approach to the report by including meetings that were affected by the pandemic and those that remained unaffected.

Facing stricter COVID policies than many other meeting destinations worldwide, China P.R, Japan, and the Republic of Korea embraced new technologies to go hybrid. In fact, due to their high number of hybrid meetings, the Republic of Korea replaced the Netherlands in the top 10 country destinations. Dubai ranked 1st for unaffected meetings and was the only Middle Eastern city represented in the six individual top 20 rankings. Vienna and Lisbon were close contenders in the DPI for cities, but Vienna ultimately claimed the lead due to having more unaffected meetings in 2021. Now, non-ICCA members can also benefit from this new methodology, called the Destination Performance Index (DPI), which provides a more holistic view of how destinations have addressed recent challenges.

Overall, Europe was a strong performer as an association meeting destination during the pandemic. Denmark and Greece replaced Argentina and Brazil for meetings in the top 20 countries. Association meetings create jobs and boost local economies. Seventy percent of the top 20 countries and 80% of the top 20 cities are European. The Public Abstract of the ICCA Annual Statistics report is now available for non-ICCA members after a one-year hiatus.

Amongst destination cities, Montreal (19th) and Dubai (21st) were outliers in their respective regions. It also provides a three-year economic impact analysis, usually unavailable to non-ICCA members. The remaining two indicators, unaffected and hybrid, were topped by Spain and China-P.R., respectively.

Written by: Matthew Thomas