The More I See, The More I Know, The More I Improve!
On the initiative of our readers, in autumn 2017 we carried out research into the satisfaction of meeting planners with international MICE associations. The research was carried out from August to December 2017. We invited 3,215 organisers to participate and received 612 responses. This represents 20% of all respondents, which means that it is a statistically credible sample.
More than 85% of meeting planners responded to our e-mail invitation, whilst there was also a large share of individuals who took part in the survey via social media.
Structure of respondents
The structure of participating respondents was interesting. Out of 54 countries, we received the most responses from Germany, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
Based on activity, the structure among respondents was as follows:
- Incentive Travel House 15.0%
- Event Management Agency 15.0%
- PCO – Professional Congress Organiser 13.3%
- Association Planner 11.7%
- Destination Management Organisation 10.0%
- Corporate Planner 8.3%
- Venue Finding Agency 6.7%
- Convention Centre 1.7%
- Technology 1.7%
Membership of associations
As many as 92.5% of all respondents are members of various international professional associations. Among them, the highest number are enrolled in the MPI, ICCA and SITE associations.
The structure of respondents based on association membership:
- Other (see explanation) 25.71%
- MPI – Meeting Professionals International 21.43%
- ICCA – The International Congress and Convention Association 17.14%
- SITE – The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence 17.14%
- PCMA – Professional Convention Management Association 4.29%
- ASAE – The American Society of Association Executives 2.86%
- DMAI – Destinations International 2.86%
- IAPCO – The International Association of Professional Congress Organisers 2.86%
- UFI – The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry 2.86%
- AIPC – The International Association of Convention Centres 1.43%
- UIA – The Union of International Associations 1.43%
Most respondents are members of various national and/or regional associations and other specialist associations, such as Alagaev, DeGefest, the CEO Institute, FICP, MICE Germany, whilst numerous among them are also members of MICE Club, EVCOM, ADMEI, and CEFA.
Almost 3% responded that they are not members of any international professional associations.
The majority of respondents have been members of associations for more than five years (70%), 12.5% have been members for 3-5 years, whilst a smaller percentage have been members for a shorter length of time.
Association brand names based on their reliability and power
The most trustworthy brand names of associations are ICCA, MPI, AIPC and SITE
We asked all respondents to rank associations based on the level of power of their brand. They were rated on a scale from 1 to 10.
The list of the ten most trustworthy associations is as follows:
- ICCA – The International Congress and Convention Association 7.1
- MPI – Meeting Professionals International 6.9
- AIPC – The International Association of Convention Centres 6.8
- SITE – The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence 5.5
- PCMA – Professional Convention Management Association 5.4
- ASAE – The American Society of Association Executives 5.3
- IAPCO – The International Association of Professional Congress Organisers 5.2
- ECM – European Cities Marketing 5.0
- DMAI – Destinations International 4.9
- AACVB – The Asian Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus 4.7
Key reasons for membership of assocations
The main reason for enrolment is networking and education
The following are among the most important motivations for enrolling in international associations:
- Networking 47.62%
- Education 30.16%
- Member Benefit Programme 14.29%
- Annual Event Discounts 4.76%
- Other 3.17.%
How would you rate the quality of the activities of the associations?
Professionalism and representation are among the activities that international associations carry out best
- Professionalism score 3.6
- Representation score 3.4
- Conferences score 3.3
- Responsiveness score 3.2
- Special Events score 3.1
- Assistance score 3.0
- Newsletters score 2.9
- Benefit Programmes score 2.7
This question is also related to the question about general satisfaction with the organisation(s) of which respondents are members:
- Totally Satisfied 27.5%
- Neither satisfied not dissatisfied 27.5%
- Somewhat Satisfied 22.5%
- Very Dissatisfied 15%
- Somewhat Dissatisfied 7.5%
Half of those surveyed responded that they are satisfied with the work of the association(s) of which they are a member, whilst there was an equal share who responded that they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Twenty-two and a half percent of respondents are somewhat satisfied, which means that there is a lot of room for improvement.
Added value of membership fees and participation in events
Respondents rated the added value of associations quite critically,
- Some value for money 35.0%
- Good value for money 22.5%
- Not enough value for money 15.0%
- A little value for money 15.0%
- More value than I would expect for the money 12.5%
Exactly 70% of those surveyed rated the value of membership fees as justified and appropriate, whilst 30% were critical of the membership fees. Among them, there was a relatively high share who were critical of the value of membership fees.
The data about the number of congress and events of various associations which respondents attended last year is also interesting:
- 2-4 events 45.0%
- 1 event 30.0%
- 8-10 events 12.5%
- 5-7 events 7.5%
- More than 10 events 5.0%
In connection with this we also asked about the added value of various events which respondents attended. The results are as follows:
- Some value for money 37.5%
- Not enough value for money 22.5%
- Good value for money 20.0%
- A little value for money 10.0%
- More value than I would expect for the money 10.0%
Among those surveyed, the majority responded that they have a positive opinion of the added value of association events. Sixty-seven and a half percent are of the opinion that events create added value. The share of those not satisfied, however, is a relatively high 32.5%.
How can associations make events more valuable to you?
We have gathered the responses into ten recommendations, since individual responses were repeated and relate to the same challenges:
- Content – High level content, they should continue to provide diverse content for all audiences, including young leaders and senior planners, and they should continue to provide top themes related to the industry.
- Networking – Members’ business introductions and exchanges and providing more networking opportunities are key.
- Communication – Good speakers, innovation, emerging themes and networking
- More business-driven – Have better members. Most attendees come for the free drinks and free food, not really for the true meaning of the event.
- To serve the planners interests and be more inclusive – to have a better understanding of the needs of members.
- Follow the trends – Educational topics clearly linked to business trends in the macro economy. Try new things, experiment and get input from participants. It is important that associations showcase new ideas, tools and concepts.
- Be more local – Regional instead of global events.
- Registration fees – Decrease the costs of registration fees. The aim of associations is to gather members and get new ones and not to make money on registration fees.
- Joint Ventures – It would be good if associations unite and hold combined events.
10. Format of meetings – Smaller, interactive meetings that get to the bottom of a subject.
What types of events would you like to see in the future?
Inspiring collaborative events with a high quality of education combined with engagement and networking
The responses to the question about what kind of events respondents would like were also interesting. Some of the most interesting responses are shown below:
- Crowdsourced events – asking members for suggestions for topics and speakers, also allowing more time for attendees to exchange ideas at sessions
- Interaction in conferences and knowledge transfer between attendees
- Forums that regroup international associations and their challenges
- Making meetings more dynamic
- Innovative events with a wider range of experiences, also scientific
- Training sessions, study tours, with more discussion and brainstorming sessions
- More online training sessions and hybrid events
- Events with good content in small interactive sessions and great networking breaks
Associations as a source of information for members
The majority of respondents swear by personal contact. As many as 82% of respondents believe that events are a key source of information and meeting new members and partners.
As part of this questions we asked meeting planners two questions connected with their satisfaction based on the quality and method of association(s) communication.
How satisfied are you with the association as a source of information?
- Somewhat Satisfied 37.5%
- Neutral 25.0%
- Totally Satisfied 22.5%
- Somewhat Dissatisfied 10.0%
- Very Dissatisfied 5.0%
How do you prefer to meet/get to know other members?
- Networking events 40.91%
- Annual events 31.82%
- Via online social communities 16.67%
- Monthly meetings 9.09%
To what extent would you like to increase your opportunities to get to know other association members?
The responses to this question confirm that the main reason for membership of associations is networking, an area in which there is still room for further improvement, according to the majority of respondents.
- Very much 47.5%
- Somewhat 25.0%
- Extremely 15.0%
- A little bit 10.0%
- Not at all 2.5%
Among the methods for getting to know other members, respondents chose:
- In-person networking events 60.0%
- Association membership directory 15.0%
- Social/cultural events 12.5%
- Association website 7.5%
- Newsletters 2.5%
- Other 2.5%
How likely would you be to recommend association membership to a colleague?
Ninety-percent of those surveyed would recommend the association to a colleague. Among them, as many of 67.5% would do so without hesitation.
- Very likely 42.5%
- Fairly likely 25.0%
- Slightly likely 22.5%
- Very unlikely 10.0%
How can associations make events more valuable to you?
Respondents rated the innovativeness and creativity of individual associations on a scale from 1 to 10. In both areas, associations scored an average of 6 stars or were rated as adequate. Therefore, there is still great room for improvement.
- Innovativeness score 6.08
- Creativity score 6.05
Respondents made some concrete suggestions and ideas for improving the work of associations. Some of the most interesting are listed below:
- Rotation of management and leadership.
- Bring professionals into the room and engage with members.
- We don’t all have a lot of time. Don’t waste our time with stupid sales messages.
- More out of the box, more interaction, more in-depth.
- Deliver value to members in everything you do.
- Run events without any gimmicks in order to get real members to attend.
- It’s very hard to do more. as associates are increasingly concerned with daily results. However, it is important to promote initiatives in which associates can share experiences and boost innovation.