15 Aug The State of Associations Abroad
In the last few decades the world has seen unparalleled growth in economic, cultural, and political globalization. More and more businesses are opening offices overseas, increased infrastructure has made international travel easier and more accessible, social media allows us to meet and connect with people half a world away, and the success (or failure) of a country’s economy has implications we feel here in the United States.
Associations, too, must keep up with this new global reality. Generally positive economic forecasts worldwide have allowed associations across the world to grow and address the needs of their members and organizations in exciting, albeit specific, ways. Here are some noteworthy global association management trends in several key regions:
Asia-Pacific. Asia-Pacific is a diverse region that is seeing remarkable growth and opportunity due to investments in infrastructure. The Belt and Road Initiative was created by the Chinese government as a means of establishing cooperation among more than 60 countries throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa. These relationships will lead to improved economies and a higher degree of connectivity, which is crucial in a region where demand far exceeds supply. Association members in the Asia-Pacific region are the most likely to be concerned with issues of safety, economic and political stability, and policy.
Europe. Europe leads the way in hosting international conventions and association meetings; a recent survey cited that 60% of all international meetings are held in large cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels. European association leaders and members are also the most optimistic about growth, though they are also the most likely to have kept policies and budgets put in place during the last recession. In order to reduce costs, those in Europe prefer to use their own meeting spaces and consider less expensive options for convention travel. Finally, though Europeans are more likely than their American counterparts to have developed a set of policies and standards for using social media, they are far less likely to use paid digital advertising in recruiting new members.
North America. A better economy in North America has by and large meant that American and Canadian associations are spending slightly more money on meetings and travel, technology, outreach, and marketing. The American Express 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast reported a 1.9% increase in spending for programs in the North American market, with this spending used primarily to create a unique, more personalized experience for members and event attendees. North Americans are also investing in employees; more than 15% of association meetings in 2015 were internal or dedicated to training. Despite an improved economy, North Americans, especially those in the United States, are slightly more likely than others to fear another recession.
Central and South America. Central and South America has seen a great deal of interest and infrastructure development on the heels of the latest World Cup and in anticipation of the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Convention and meeting-goers in Central and South America can expect to pay more in cost per attendee than those in North America and Europe, and this cost is expected to continue to increase. Attendees are also more likely to favor certain locations as incentives to attend an event and, therefore, are willing to pay more for access to cities like Rio, Cancun, Panama City, and São Paulo.
Despite all these differences, it’s important to note that association leaders across the world are concerned with issues related to budget, membership numbers and appeal to Millennials and, of course, how to make the most of our global economy.
Does your association host events overseas and/or recruit members internationally? What do you see as challenges and opportunities?