ICCA is the peak body for the meetings industry. Exhibition Showcase talks to Noor Ahmed Hamid about India’s position as a desirable destination for Meetings and Conventions
ES: Can you tell us about your role in ICCA?
Noor: I am the Regional Director Asia Pacific for ICCA and I have been in this role since 8 years already.
ES: ICCA is the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry. Can you please elaborate the role and functions of ICCA and how it came to existence?
Noor: ICCA is the peak body for the meetings industry. For the members, we are the enabler and provide competitive edge especially with business database to track international association meetings that they could bid. For the global community ICCA stands out to talk about the importance of the meetings industry which is beyond the economic impact.
The legacy that meetings brought to the community and the far reaching to the association members.
ES: Who all are your members and what benefits do they derive from your membership?
Noor: ICCA members are primarily suppliers of the meeting industry who specialised in “association meetings business”. They include destination marketing organisation, national/state/city convention bureaux, PCOs, DMCs, AMCs, venues (convention centres and hotels with meeting space), airlines and support services companies such as tech co, media, consultants etc.
“The main benefit is the association database which they can use to track business opportunities, but we see more and more companies joining ICCA as they could also do business within the membership itself.”
ES: What is the global scenario of the Meetings & Conference industry? Can you share some statistics (regional) with us?
Noor: The global scenario that we saw from the last 50 years is an exponential growth in international association meetings including regional meetings. ICCA advocates not only on the importance of the direct expenditures that a meeting brings to a destination, but more importantly the beyond economic impact such as legacy and the positive outcomes this knowledge industry brought to the people. As a snapshot, more than 173,000+ meetings were held from 1963 to 2012 and the aggregate expenditure between 2008- 2012 was more than USD 54.6 billion in economic impact. The ICCA 50 Years report can be read on its website.
Report link: https://www.iccaworld.org/knowledge/benefit.cfm?benefitid=5180
ES: Can you share some unique characteristics of association based meetings? What challenges and opportunities do they present for a PCO and DMC?
Noor: One of the most unique characters of an association meeting is that it rotates between different destinations as it serves its membership. Therefore, it provides opportunity for every destination to bid for the meeting as their potential business. The income derived from delegates is far higher than from a leisure tourist; that is why more and more destinations are pursuing the association meetings market segment as their key economic driver to bring foreign exchange to their destination. For PCO and DMC, the biggest challenge for them, is that association meetings more often than not are decided far in advance, like 2-5 years. Therefore, PCOs and DMCs have to work on a long term basis. Secondly, in the decision process, an association would determine destination and possibly venue first, and take into account who will be their PCO and DMC only at a later stage or closer to the meeting.
ES: Can you throw some light on ICCA’s ranking system? What are its basis and parameters?
Noor: The basic fundamental of ICCA certified meetings, is that it must be organised by an international association (governmental & corporate meetings are not included), the meeting must have at least 50 delegates, the meeting must rotate between at least 3 different countries and it must be held on a regular basis (such as annual, biennial etc). We track and curate all these meetings and hence the result is a ranking of countries and cities around the world, which is published every year.
ES: What are the top meeting destinations in Asia? How does India stand in this arrangement?
Noor: For 2017 ranking (which is the latest) the top 5 destination in Asia pacific are as follows:
- Japan (414 meetings)
- China PR (376 meetings)
- Rep. of Korea (279 meetings)
- Australia (258 meetings)
- India (175 meetings)
ES: India surpassed China as the fastest growing country of the world. What challenges and opportunities lie ahead of India in the MICE segment?
Noor: Indeed India is a growing economy of the world. However, from the meetings perspective India is still an infant in this segment. Only a few cities in India have the proper facilities and hardware to host an international meeting (when compared to China, where the infrastructure is better).
On the positive side, India has active association leaders some of whom are world renown in their respective fields and English is widely spoken. Also, India is now showing growth in terms of new meeting facilities. Not only with respect to the convention centres being built around the country, but also five and four star hotels. Therefore, India has great potential for this meeting segment.
ES: What are the emerging trends in the Global Meetings industry?
Noor: One of the emerging trends is increase in regional meetings.
ES: It is seen that countries bid for international conventions. How can we have International Association Congresses and Conventions in India?
Noor: The 49th ICCA Congress was successfully bid and hosted by Hyderabad in 2010. Normally, the congress will not return to the same country after 7- 10 years. This year, ICCA Congress will be held in Dubai, while in 2019 in Houston and 2020 in Kaohsiung. Therefore, India could potentially bid for 2022 and beyond. The bidding for international association meetings is a long term process.
ES: Can you share the highlights of the recently concluded ICPB’s CIC Conclave in Kolkata?
Noor: It is encouraging to see the Government of India and the local Kolkata Government collaborating with the private sectors such as PCOs, Hotels etc. For any destination to be strong in the meetings market, the collaboration between these two parties is very essential. It is my fervent hope to see more involvement from the local Indian association leaders as they are the catalyst to bring their respective association meetings in the future. I also hope that the media plays its role in communicating the importance of the meetings industry, so that destinations in India could also work in tandem with the national interest.
ES: What have been your major learnings in this industry? What do you cherish the most about being in this industry?
Noor: The meetings industry is passion driven and provides great knowledge exchange, which has kept me on my toes for the last 8 years in this community. I see there is a great potential in all the destinations within the Asia Pacific region, and it is my hope to help the region grow!