Written by: Anna Lindström, Director, and Lisa Wästberg, Research & Sales, Uppsala Convention Bureau, Sweden.
Anna and Lisa discuss their experiences with the ICCA Destination Comparison Tool:
“Uppsala considers association meetings and events as tools for change and development. The role of Uppsala Convention Bureau is therefore to identify, attract and create an environment where more meetings come to our city. To actively collect information on future and past meetings and events and by analysing data from year to year, we can also identify which events to attract for which periods.
We are about to produce our sixth yearly report on the meetings industry in Uppsala. Some of the effects of the industry, such as economic stimulation through touristic expenditure, are easy to measure in numbers. Others, like legacy, knowledge exchange and organisational development are still hard to cover in a report, but they have been of the greatest importance to us when attracting new meetings and events.
We don’t have a research department, nor do we have a statistics department. We all do the same work and we do all at once. We call it a circular way of working.
There are no external deadlines shaping our work, such as the ICCA’s annual statistics submission deadline on 1 February. By the time this date comes around, we’ve already done the work throughout the previous year, or years before.
We do this work well and have won both ICCA Researcher of the Month 2 times and ICCA Researcher of the Year once.
We strongly believe in sharing.
We engage a lot in the ICCA database and make sure to add all we see and know about our meetings, as well as the meetings of our colleagues around the world. The ICCA database is the core to all the other tools that ICCA offers its members. This main tool, however, is nothing without the contribution of all members.
Maybe some of you do not want to share information on meetings that have taken place in other cities – because that will make your competitors look better. Well if so, your competitors ARE better. We need to make strategies and competitor analyses from real and true facts, don’t we? If the meeting has taken place you might as well report it and use the fact to your advantage, whether that means looking into and explaining why your competitors are doing better, how much resources in staff/budget they have or how much more capacity they have. Deal with it, use it and move forward with it!
It only takes two seconds to share information. The red button and the button to add a new meeting edition to the database are so easy; they give the opportunity to just add the link of proof and a small note and as quick as a flash, it’s done!
So no, it is not time consuming. How great is it not having to stress to get all your meetings in before the deadline in early February! There is just no reason to do it all at once, when you and your team can work on it throughout the year.
What statistics and research team?
In Uppsala, we urge you: researching for new meetings, collecting statistics, analysing outcomes and predicting the future must all be done with a circular way of working.
As said before, we do not have a specific research team. There is no one specifically assigned to do statistics or rotation search, and not one of us is solely responsible for the strategic planning of how to work in the future, depending on the forecast of the years to come. We all do it. Every day and all in one job: Circular.
And if we could stress it once again – you are clueless of what type of meetings attract in the future if you are not an expert on what has already been hosted in your destination.
Since the entire team logs in to the database on a daily basis, we also make sure to use the bookmark star, which means that a particular meeting record has been added to our own CRM system and is marked as having relevance or not to Uppsala.
The ICCA ranking as an indicator
The ranking can for sure give indications, but it is far from the truth. As in this exact case.
It’s important for us to communicate figures as accurately as possible when it comes to communicating the strengths and effects that international association meetings have on our own city. The international comparison is obviously essential. We have done a yearly report of ALL association meetings taking place in Uppsala for six consecutive years. The Destination Comparison Tool that ICCA has set up is of great help when specifically talking about the international association market and comparing us and our strengths to those of our so-called competitors. We would love for more destinations to measure their total meetings industry so that there are more cities with which we can set a benchmark.
The great thing about getting everyone more into their stats also has a positive effect on the ICCA database. Doing data collection also involves searching for patterns, rotation schemes, and ta-daaaaa there you go: you find enough evidence to include new meetings in the database!
Since we have great knowledge of our destination’s association meetings, we know for a fact that the ‘ICCA-meetings’ stand for only about 1 forth or 1 fifth of all meetings taking place every year.
As you well know, not all association meetings meet the ICCA criteria. For example it should be mentioned that a lot of future ‘ICCA-meetings’ are created in Uppsala. A lot of series of new meetings have started here, both on a national and international basis.. We have about 50% national and 50% international association meetings in our city, and we keep track of them all.
Who should you collaborate with?
If you know your strengths, you also know your potential collaborators. In Uppsala, we collaborate with three other Nordic cities, based on our specific fields of expertise, capacity and being non-capital cities.
This specific alliance with other ICCA members is called ABC (Alliance of Brain Cities) and consists of Uppsala, Bergen, Espoo and Aarhus. We see great potential in other collaborations as well, not only long-term or permanent collaborations, but we also welcome unique one-time collaborators when looking into congresses passing through our city to other fellow ICCA member cities. This would be much harder to achieve if we did not have ICCA and could not keep track of statistics over a longer period. Thank you, ICCA, for creating, spreading and encouraging this culture of collaborative working!”
Would you like to know more about this and/or other useful tools ICCA provides to its members? Or would you like to write a Member to Member Top Tip? Please contact Willy Cortus.