Can Icca count? Paris still #1, not Barcelona


ICCA*, publishing results for the association segment of the MICE business in 2017, has done it again.


It has:

–produced findings which belie market sentiment,


-attempted no clarification,


-interpreted its own data different to the way it advises the industry.



We explain:

-ICCA reports that Barcelona overtook Paris and Vienna in 2017 to become the #1 city for association meetings in Europe in 2017.


-How can this be when Barcelona was partially shut down for two months in 2017 during its political problems related to an unauthorised vote for independence for Catalonia?


-And when this was the year Paris recovered from terrorist attacks in the two earlier years?


-Surely the industry deserves an explanation for these results?


-We use an (ICCA)-recommended 5-year composite total – see below – which shows that Barcelona is not top. Paris is still #1, followed by Vienna, and then Barcelona.





-This is not the first time ICCA’s research has thrown up odd results. For example:

  i. How could Budapest get into the top-5 (in 2007) and, say, London could not?


  ii. One year Sandton showed up in the world’s top-5 – prompting us to google it. (It is part of Johannesburg.)


  iii. ICCA did not flag Taiwan’s 52% single-year growth in 2010, even though that took it above Singapore. With Singapore’s stunning new attractions at that time, we found that change hard to believe in marketing terms, even if strictly correct in statistical terms.



-ICCA’s counts are meetings of associations (and follow precise definitions), and thus are just one segment of the big MICE business. We have not seen estimates, but we would be surprised if ICCA’s segment was more than 20% of the total. Why do these counts attract so much interest? (Possibly, we answer ourselves, because no other worldwide trade body tracks the whole MICE business.)



-Until 2009, ICCA gave us additional information for our analysis, but has refused this since. Full data is reserved for ICCA members; a policy with which we agree, even if it causes us some difficulty. As a result, however, our coverage is now limited to meetings numbers, rather than adding commentary on attendance numbers as well.


-Our main analysis is based on multi-year results. We are motivated by those in the MICE segment of the travel business – who tell us that single-year figures can be misleading. As a result, we calculate average-annual totals based on 5-year periods – to balance out distortions caused by unusually-big or -small events in one year.


  Surprisingly, the industry itself still works on annual figures! Even more surprising is that in 2013 ICCA said it was following our lead and tracking results in 5-year averages. Despite that, all its analysis and observations continues to be based on single-year figures!


  In other words, after admitting another way is better, ICCA has continued with the old way. Duh!



-ICCA was initially an abbreviation for the International Congress and Conventions Association. Then it used ICCA as a name, which it described as The International Meetings Association. It has now reverted to almost the same – ICCA, International Congress and Convention Association.



-A report on this topic in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.



The Fox. Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.

*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.