A Welcome and Congratulations to The Iceberg!
I am pleased to be able to contribute to this, the first edition of our newest industry communications vehicle The Iceberg, with a few observations of what it represents in terms of how far we’ve come and how much we’ve evolved as an industry. At the same time, it’s an acknowledgement of how far we still have to go if we are to take full advantage of what until now has been an “internal revolution” that has re-shaped our own thinking but has yet to be fully absorbed by those on the outside – the governments and communities we depend upon for ongoing investment and support.
So what is this “revolution?” Quite simply, it is the fact that the focus of our value proposition as an industry has been shifting from one based on delegate and organizer spending to the value of what these events actually achieve for organizers, participants and host communities. As simple as it sounds, this in fact has huge implications, because it places us at the very centre of both the global economy and the underlying scientific, professional, academic, business and social advancements that drive it.
As an industry, we are all about facilitating the kinds of exchanges that are essential to knowledge transfer, innovation, collaboration and advancement that make the wheels of the world go around – and that today are proving to be even more important in the face of other forms of information delivery that require validation through face to face encounters.
The new collective view of the industry – and certainly those who actually develop and carry out these events – is that such outcomes are their real purpose and value, however attractive the related spending impacts may be. However, they are also the most challenging to quantify or monetize because they are often long term and based on things like the benefits of knowledge transfer and relationship-building that are hard to attribute to a single factor.
The fact that something may be difficult to precisely quantify doesn’t mean it should be ignored – yet that is precisely what we’ve been doing for decades by focusing on delegate and organizer spending and essentially ignoring what is actually being accomplished. Today’s challenge is while still acknowledging the major financial values generated by the events we support to correct that huge omission by shifting the spotlight onto those broader outcomes while still acknowledging the major financial benefits generated by the events we support.
We cannot possibly quantify the range of benefits arising from every event that takes place around the world but equally obviously don’t need to. Instead, we can provide in-depth analyses of representative events that illustrate these, and use them to demonstrate the broader principles. The events that are documented in this manner will serve both to illustrate those elusive values and as examples of how others can perform similar value measurements in their own events.
At the same time, they will get a great deal of attention, which will bring appropriate credit to those who organized and delivered them.
With this in mind, the Joint Meetings Industry Council has embarked on a project to identify and document a series of representative events that illustrate those broader economic, academic, business and professional achievements of global meetings, conventions and exhibitions. It will consist of two key components:
- First, an academic component consisting of a team of university researchers who can provide the academic rigor we need to enhance credibility of the results and help advise organizers on best practices for value measurement, and…
- Secondly, a vehicle that can make the most of the very compelling “stories” that arise from the project – events that illustrate benefits in ways that the readers and, most importantly, our key audiences – can understand and relate to.
JMIC’s The Value of Meetings Case Study Project. Video: James Latham.
The first component is already underway, led by the University of Technology Sydney and incorporating an academic panel comprising leading researchers in the field around the world. The second is what you see before you today – The Iceberg, a name that clearly references the importance of values “below the surface” but which dwarf our traditional spending- based measures in comparison to their importance.
The outputs and legacies to be identified and quantified in the study will potentially cover a wide spectrum, from the value of networks and business transactions arising from an event to medical advancements like improved disease awareness, research and treatment practices. Also to be explored are the benefits that hosting events can deliver to the host community, including profiling a particular country or city in connection with key elements of their economic or social agenda or attracting new talent to key sectors.
And with the Iceberg, we have an industry-supported vehicle that is powerfully equipped to tell the story effectively – both as a source of information and resources to members engaged in advocacy and as a communications force in its own right, with media networks that can open up new audiences.
To drive all this, we turn to you, our industry members. We are now seeking out events that illustrate the range of benefits our industry delivers, and in particular those that have or can be measured against their outcome objectives. With the ability we now have to support and recognize exemplary events in demonstrating their value in broader terms we are looking for partners in the corporate, professional and other association communities to work with us in assembling some rigorous studies on individual events.
While Council members are working with us on this process, we nevertheless want to leave the door open for all industry members with similar objectives – namely, to demonstrate the value of the events they organize or host – to join in this program. The result will be a big benefit to all, as clearly documented examples emerge of just what meetings, conventions and exhibitions contribute to the life and economy of destinations all over the world.
We have all been hearing about good examples for many years – now is the time to get these on the table and capture these examples in ways that will enable us to demonstrate the broader values to the rest of the world. This is something that will benefit everyone in and around the industry for years to come – a way of securing our collective future by demonstrating to those whose support we need just how valuable our work really is, not just to this industry but in fact to global advancement on so many fronts.
Let’s do it together!
Joachim Koenig, President, the Joint Meetings Industry Council