Skift Take

These four destinations represent the highest concentration of international association headquarters. So the partnership has the opportunity to evolve into a true platform for sharing knowledge on global association meeting trends with the rest of the industry, and not just sales leads among themselves.

Announced last week at the IMEX America meetings industry show, the new Global Association Hubs Partnership is a collection of economic development and destination marketing organizations spread across America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The Dubai Association Centre, Destination DC, Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau, and Visit Brussels are now officially working together to better engage association meeting planners and drive large association business to each other.

“The motivation behind this is to create reciprocal opportunities for associations to build capacity and learn best practices,” says Jeannie Lim, executive director, conventions, meetings & incentive travel, Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau. “We can take joint measures to promote partner cities to international association decision makers, share global strategies and expansion plans, and develop research to further our objectives.”

Washington and Brussels are home to the international headquarters for many of the largest and most well-established global associations within their respective continents. Therefore they provide a valuable resource for access to association leaders and their networks.

Meanwhile, many Western associations are aggressively seeking to grow their international membership base in Asia and the Middle East. As the de facto association hubs in their regions, based on their standing as global business hubs, Dubai and Singapore are naturally well placed to engage potential new association members.

That works both ways. As Singapore and Dubai develop their nascent association sectors, the U.S. and European Union capitals are the best possible portals into established and emerging Western markets.

“For Singapore, this partnership is timely,” says Lim. “The association landscape in Asia is still developing. International associations in the region can leverage Singapore as a base for their business events and activities, and in the process, build their capabilities.”

With these types of collaborative partnerships between destination marketing organizations, much of it boils down to sharing sales leads. International associations move their big annual conferences around the globe, so by the DMOs teaming up, they can push business to each other.

However, there’s an opportunity here for the DMOs to go beyond that to share information with the rest of the industry and position themselves as trendsetters and industry thought leaders.

That rarely happens to any significant degree with these types of alliances, except maybe in the case of the Future Convention Cities Initiative, but that’s only because of the efforts of Business Events Sydney.

This could be that kind of platform as well based on the quality and foresight of the specific DMOs. Their geographical spread and small number, which avoids too many competing mandates, makes the Global Association Hubs Partnership well positioned to be a new voice for the association industry, which is under increasing pressure to provide real value to members in the digital age.

That is especially true for Dubai, which along with the rest of the Middle East, is struggling to resonate with Western meeting planners and attendees as much as they deserve.

“Currently, with the partnership in its infancy, plans are still being continually refined,” Lim told Skift. “An online platform and other materials are certainly being explored.”

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Photo credit: Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre. Choo Yut Shing / Flickr

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