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Int'l association outsourcing driven by desire for higher quality, not cheaper deals.
Tuesday, 15th July 2014
Source : ICCA
At the ICCA Hybrid Workshop on the Future for Association Outsourcing, held on 4th July during ICCA’s annual Research, Sales and Marketing Programme in Amsterdam, it was found that associations and suppliers were not always in alignment when thinking about this topic, but that it was a critical, complex issue that all meetings industry suppliers need to understand better. 
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The panel interacts with the online audience during the Hybrid Workshop.

Involving pre-workshop online interviews and surveys, live interaction with over 300 online participants in 43 countries (including a deliberately-scheduled ICCA workshop in Thailand and a dozen other online hubs where ICCA members gathered together to discuss the content of the seminar), and input from the on-site audience of 150 ICCA members, the session came to the following conclusions:
  • Suppliers primarily see outsourcing as a way for association clients to save money.
    Associations are more motivated by the wish to raise quality standards, or to make effective use of more advanced technology.
  • A majority of associations surveyed had recently brought back in-house some outsourced services, essentially to take closer control of areas that are seen as “mission critical”.
    But, despite the above finding, both suppliers and associations agree that there will be significantly more outsourcing over the coming five years, and that competition between companies offering outsourcing will increase. Outsourcing is going to become more important.
  • A poll during the Hybrid Workshop showed Meeting logistics are not the only functions being outsourced: online marketing, communication & PR, IT and financial services, and of course full association management, or all being taken up and offered. PCOs face competition from Association Management Companies, publishers, IT companies, communication/marketing agencies, and even other associations which are exploiting their in-house expertise by offering this to sister organisations.
What services should international associations definitely outsource: The poll results

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Perhaps the biggest mis-match in viewpoints was that almost all associations perceive that there are always some risks to their relationship with members when they outsource services, whilst suppliers did not perceive that this was a risk at all.

Transparency, trust and genuine partnerships are the hallmark of any successful outsourcing relationship, and a transactional mentality is the fastest route to failure for both parties.
The event was especially designed for meetings industry suppliers, associations and any other professionals interested in the outsourcing process, and was sponsored by the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau.

The live debate at the heart of this event was a discussion chaired by ICCA CEO Martin Sirk with association leaders Finn Raben, Director General of ESOMAR, the global market research association, Karen McMain, President of the International Orthoptic Association, and Jarno de Boer, European head of the global PCO company CIMGlobal.

Martin Sirk commented: “What is clear is that this is a highly complex issue, with some associations bringing services back in-house, some looking to outsource more, and with more and different forms of competition. Associations which used to be monopoly providers of knowledge in their respective fields are now facing a tremendously competitive marketplace, so are looking for any business model that will help to make them become more efficient, not only within their meetings function. This has massive implications for how suppliers will interact with association clients in future, in that they may have to deal primarily with intermediaries who are controlling more and more of the decision-making. At the same time, associations are telling us that the critical issue is their ongoing relationship with their members: any outsourcer needs to respect this fact if they want to be successful.”

Online host of the session was Gerrit Heijkoop of LiveOnlineEvents-HCIBS: “It was exciting to see how more than 300 people from all over the world joined our event at the beautiful Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam. Their interaction was very lively and engaging with over 400 messages in 2 hours.”

"Luckily ICCA realises a hybrid event is not about sticking a camera into the back of a meeting room,” Gerrit Heijkoop continues. “I believe it really paid off to plan this online event like a professional TV production with multiple cameras, dedicated presenter and moderator. Afterwards, we were very happy to discover that 78% of the participants stated they learned something they can use in their professional life right away. In the end, that’s what meetings are all about!”

The Hybrid Workshop lasted 2 hours. It started with an introduction to the topic exclusively for the online audience, then captured the interactive panel discussion live on stage and finally went back to the studio for a Q&A with the panel.
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