Behind the numbers – UIA’s associations survey adds context to statistics on international meetings 
by Joel Fischer, Union of International Associations (UIA)
Foster effective meetings. A cursory review of the growth and development of association meetings presents one with a highly dynamic and responsive group of partners that are quick to act on opportunity and as quick to counteract the impact of threats and challenges. The ultimate goal in pursuing these changes and actions remains constant: bringing people together to foster effective and exceptional meetings.
The richness of this picture becomes clearer when reviewing statistics across the decades of 20th and 21st centuries. Who went where? How did meeting size change? What impact did issues in the wider geopolitical and business worlds have on association meetings and the choices and opportunities that their planning requires?
The UIA’s Annual Report on International Meeting Statistics derives from its work in profiling upcoming events in the International Congress Calendar and profiling the responsible organizations in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The understanding provided by the annual statistics is enhanced when the opportunity arises to directly question the opinions, attitudes and realities of the international association decision-makers themselves.
In 1985, 1993, 2002, 2009 and 2013 the Congress Department of the UIA undertook surveys of international organizations that organize events. Of interest to all parties involved in international association meetings – from the federations and societies to all the meeting-specific partners -- these surveys augment and provide greater depth to the analysis presented in the UIA’s annual International Meetings Statistics Report.
In September 2015, the UIA is set to once again undertake a comprehensive census and survey of international associations’ meetings behaviour. Supported by its Associate Members and other sponsors, the UIA will question some 16,000 international bodies. Organizations of all sizes and types from countries and territories across the world will be contacted.
While a base set of questions remains constant across the questionnaires, some questions are updated and new questions are added over the course of the project to reflect changes in the meetings environment in light of technological developments and socio-political issues.
The questions will examine: type of meetings; frequency; participant numbers; duration; geographical locations; scheduling; security concerns; technology issues; venue types; event coordination responsibility; production of proceedings and websites and more.
The security and technology issues remain of key interest and trending topics such as environmental concerns, corporate social responsibility and the current economic situation are expected to again generate illuminating comments from the respondents.
A project of this size provides an opportunity to develop a picture of the meetings industry which goes beyond regular “market intelligence”. Providing a view of the development of trends across the decades it will show how both association activities and the meetings industry have changed and grown, and how they are dealing with modern day opportunities and challenges. And, importantly, the commentary and information will come directly from the associations themselves.
The report of the survey will be made available to all participating correspondents and the general public.
To take part in this exciting new edition of the study, contact the UIA at <>