The Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) spent three years analysing the legacy benefits of business events, looking at nine case studies from four continents. Their finding: a disconnect between the way governments around the globe value the business events sector and the true value of conferences, congresses and international trade shows.
According to study authors and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) associate professors Carmel Foley and Deborah Edwards: “Business events have long been judged under the narrow assumption that their legacies are best measured in terms of hotel rooms and cups of coffee. Governments, in particular, have largely focused on what is commonly known as the tourism contribution, which ignores the significant scientific and research value on offer – value that directly drives economic development, creativity and innovation.”
The multi-year study, commissioned by JMIC and carried out by UTS, titled “Business Events Legacies: JMIC Case Study Project Report,” showed that this value can actually have a multiplying effect. According to the authors, the global business event industry supports broader agendas, such as building knowledge economies, encouraging industry innovation, and enhancing community well-being.“Until now, there hasn’t been a coordinated, global effort to measure and document these benefits in ways that could be used to advocate to governments and communities about the important role played by business events,” the authors said. “Ultimately, these findings confirm that the governments need to rethink the way they measure and value the business events sector.”
Some of the barriers to achieving lasting legacies? Lack of long-terms objectives or failure to look beyond organizational goals. A way to overcome these obstacles is by involving stakeholders like governments and businesses in setting legacy objectives based on agreed industry problems, issues and opportunities. By looking at a case study of the first-ever Swiss Fintech Corner setup at Sibos 2016 in Geneva, for example, participating firms formed links with large banks as a way to strengthen collaboration and long-terms goals. By inviting start-up attendees to be part of a big industry event, they also helped stimulate a more diverse discussion that led to positive outcomes that will in turn inspire future activities.
After compiling the results of the case studies garnered from scientific and industry conferences and congresses, researchers crafted six “golden rules” for business events that will help boost long-term benefits for organizations and their communities, as well as improve the way destinations and governments engage with the business events industry. The steps are simple, but powerful: Set legacy objectives and then plan for their execution. Plan for the evolution of legacy outcomes and then evaluate outcomes using the appropriate method of data collection and analysis or working with a research specialist. And, lastly, disseminate legacy outcomes widely so stakeholders can understand the full value of the event.
“What we hope and believe we have accomplished is to identify some real and measurable values and the practices that are needed to properly document them in the future,” said JMIC president Kai Hattendorf. “As the credibility of such measures increases, so will the prospects that governments will position them properly as key elements in their economic and community development strategies.”
This article was written by Boardroom Editor Lane Nieset. The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.