Global Meetings Industry Collaborates on Value Measurement

At a conference organized last week by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), a cross section of meetings industry associations from around the world met for the purpose of discussing meetings industry metrics and developing steps that will help meeting professionals communicate their value proposition to governments and communities, JMIC announced this week.

Along with industry and association leaders, participants included corporations, academics, consultants and political advisers, as well as both industry and mainstream media, the purpose of which was ensuring that value questions were addressed not only from an industry perspective, but also through the eyes of those who represent the major "users" of meetings and those with the skills required to calculate and communicate the value proposition.

"As an industry, we recognize the importance of being able to demonstrate real and relevant value to our respective governments and communities," said JMIC President Leigh Harry, CEO of the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre in Australia. "It is also important that those values relate to the most urgent priorities of the day if we are to compete successfully for government attention with other industry sectors. The purpose of this gathering was to collectively determine if we are doing the best we can in this regard and what improvements might be achieved in terms of enhancing the quality, relevance and profile of our value proposition."

During the two-day meeting, which took place in London, participants reviewed a range of current and potential value estimation models, including both economic impact measures and those associated with meetings "outcomes." Among key conclusions:

• The industry needs to advance a strong, consistent and defensible value proposition in order to compete successfully for government funding and policy attention;

• There is a need to link the industry value measurement process to current government and business priorities in order to demonstrate relevance;

• Although meetings "outcomes" represent the real reason meetings and conventions are held, not enough attention has been paid to their value because they are not as easy to measure;

• The current wide variation in economic impact models, particularly at the local destination level, means data is often inconsistent and therefore less credible.

The conference concluded with a workshop session during which participants developed a series of recommendations for the meetings industry, designed to help it advance its value proposition in the areas of both economic impact and outcomes. Key recommendations included:

• Carrying out inventory/comparative analysis of existing valuation models and develop a means for achieving greater consistency amongst these;

• Encouraging the development of local applications for economic impact models in order to generate better data for use in individual communities;

• Creating a protocol for assembling value-added "output" values, with an emphasis on the use of case studies and examples to illustrate major areas of benefit;

• Identifying key audiences, including their priority information requirements, and developing a communications "toolkit"; and

• Encouraging event owners to assume a more active role in measuring and communicating value.

"We achieved what we wanted for this conference, which was to get a broad-based assessment of current value-measurement methods and to identify the steps that should be taken to make them more effective and compelling to our key audiences," Harry said. "Now we need to use this information to move forward in a coordinated way on advancing the global proposition while we are supporting local industry representatives to tell their own story as effectively as possible, and this is the challenge JMIC and its member organizations will now address."