Destinations and associations ‘poles apart’ over legacy

There is widespread disagreement over what legacy means when it comes to international meetings and no consistency in how associations and host destinations approach the subject.

That was one of the headline findings of a new study by various Danish convention bureaux and meetings consultancy GainingEdge released at the IMEX trade show in Frankfurt.

The study sought to identify best practices in, what it calls, ‘outreach’ – the process by which associations build relationships with local stakeholders to create meetings with deeper, longer-lasting benefits.

It found that while international associations were increasingly pro-active in their attitude to legacy the way they approached it took myriad different forms and was often ad hoc in nature.

Destinations, specifically convention bureaux, meanwhile were stuck in reactive mode and rarely broached the subject of legacy with new clients, relying on associations to take the lead.

Bettina Reventlow-Mourier, deputy convention director and head of congress for Wonderful Copenhagen, said associations and destinations had different ideas on the issue.

She said: “Association publications tend to focus on knowledge and science creation and collaboration while the bureaux and destinations still seem obsessed with hospitality marketing and spending impacts.

“But it appears that the interests of associations and destinations were more aligned in industry publications, where there was more a buzz about shared benefits in linking association missions and destination outcomes.”

She added: “Our take on that is when speaking to industry publications thought leaders on both sides of the equation are making this link. But indications are that when everyone is ‘back home’ they are still poles apart.”

GainingEdge CEO Gary Grimmer said a clearer distinction between short-term gains and long-term gains had to be made to help move the discussion forward.

“There is a bit of confusion about the differences between impacts and meetings legacy. If a convention helps convince people local officials to improve a policy, that’s a meeting impact, not a legacy. If a meeting helps people from research links or new business relationships, that’s an impact not a legacy. The legacy is more about the effects of the policy change over time or the longer-term results that come out of new business and professional relationships.”

The study comes as MeetDenmark – an alliance of Danish destinations – launches a new Outreach Programme in which bureaux and local host organisations work more closely together to create more ‘impactful meetings’.