by Meetings & Conventions Asia | November 13, 2018
Paris was ranked first in the new ICCA index for competitive strength in attracting international conventions.
Destinations will now have a tool to help better tailor their MICE offerings for planners and clients.

A new index which ranks cities in terms of their competitive strength for attracting international conventions was launched at the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Annual Congress this week in Dubai.

While planners typically have a range of ranking lists to refer to when choosing a destination, destinations themselves have had no standard reference to gauge how many conventions they should reasonably expect to have.

The new index aims to fill this gap by helping destinations gain insights into how much convention business they should expect to host on an annual basis.

It scores cities on a 1,000 point scale based on their strengths in relation to 11 key drivers that influence association decision-making during destination-selection processes, and each city's score out of 1,000 determines its place in the ranking.

The first three drivers are "hygiene factors" including convention centre capacity, hotel capacity and air access, accounting for 45% of the weighting on scores. The next 30% of the weighting comprise "competitive advantage" factors including size of the destination's association community, cost and destination appeal in both a business and tourism sense.

The final 25% of the possible points are "key differentiators" that include logistics, market size, economy, business environment, and safety and stability.

The initial index included the 54 cities that ICCA lists as having hosted 150 or more international conventions in the three-year period between 2015 and 2017. Paris, France ranked first in the new index. It previously came in second for most number of meetings in the ICCA statistics released in May.

But MICE specialist consulting firm GainingEdge, which launched the index, affirmed this did not suggest there was a direct correlation between ICCA numbers and the ranking on the new index.

Rather, the index is an assessment of how destinations compare in general in terms of their product offerings, as well as other factors that are most frequently considered in destination decisions.

CEO Gary Grimmer said, "Our index has nothing to do with which are the most successful cities. And we are also stressing that this is not a qualitative study. This is not about which cities are the best choices for international conventions, but which cities overall have the most competitive products."

As part of the index, GainingEdge also created a scenario model which plots the cities based on two considerations - whether their business is growing or declining, and whether they are hosting more or fewer conventions than the index suggests. This would help destinations decide whether they should be in market share building mode or protection mode, said Grimmer.

He added, "We think providing a means of calculating fair share will be very powerful for cities as they seek to align government expectations with the resources required to get the job done. 

"If governments want to hold bureaus and their industry stakeholders accountable for results, then governments need to also be accountable themselves on making sure that the bureaus have the resources and the destination has the favourable policies needed to get the job done."