Cities run business with associations through bidding for meetings and events. Global Association Hubs Partnership (GAHP), a network of metropolises formed by Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington D.C., bids for more – the associations’ headquarters and regional offices.
The GAHP alliance, initiated at the end of 2015, is a rarely practised cooperation model on the meetings market, in which competing cities have joined their efforts in developing business relationships with associate clients. The main goal of the alliance is to support associations in an international expansion. After some three years of operation, the coalition produced concrete result. According to the latest Union of International Associations (UIA) data, a total number of 119 association offices were opened in 2017. 35 of them (approximately one out of three) were established in Brussels, Dubai, Singapore or Washington. The result means the Global Association Hubs Partnership cities experienced an annual growth rate of more than 1% in the number of headquarters and regional offices, while an average city noted a 0.3 %. Currently GAHP members concentrate 10% of the association headquarters and offices worldwide (registered by the UIA). The benefits behind this fact include foreign direct investments’ inflow, increased employment, local economic specialization and clusters development.
Main challenges faced by the associations when starting operations in the new region constitute the choice of market with the highest growth potential, selection of business model, which would best suit the selected market, choosing reliable and experienced local partners, as well as limited human and financial resources. What factors make cities, especially the metropolises, an attractive location in this case? The report launched by GLOBALSTRAT addresses the question in 10 points.
- Population: there were 512 cities globally in 2016 with at least 1 million inhabitants, which housed 23% of the world’s population. High concentration of human capital in a certain place facilitate associations to reach potential new members.
- Higher Education Centers: universities are mainly situated in the urbanized areas. In a natural way they are a support to the activities undertaken by associations and a source of experts, speakers for the events, students, volunteers and other opportunities.
- Linguistic and Cultural Diversity: international development requires recognizing cultural context of the new markets, that influences the style of doing business. The linguistic and cultural diversity of the population living in big cities enables associations to recruit a staff with the proper qualifications and background.
- Commerce: 80% of the global GDP is produced in the cities, where clusters and corporate headquarters – potential partners, exhibitors or sponsors – are also located.
- Research, Innovation and Standards: associations seek to gain the profession or the industry leader position and to set new standards. Hence the presence of organizations and groups, such as government bodies and research groups, with whom they can cooperate, play an important role.
- Support Services: availability of qualified and knowledgeable support services in a field of taxes, legal registrations and banking is crucial for associations in the international development.
- Meeting Infrastructure: fundamental element of the meetings and events organization, often decisive for the annual budget.
- Transportation Hubs: a developed direct flight, rail and road connections network not only allow for the time savings but also increases the chances to boost the meeting’s attendance.
- Government Relations: access to decision-makers and legislative bodies is conducive to lobbying for the associations’ members.
- Regional Gateways: the cities offering associations favourable conditions for international development are a starting point for further expansion in the region / country.
Association Meetings International, February 2018, CAT Publications.
Barkan, T. (2018). Association Global Growth Trends Survey 2013-2018. GLOBALSTRAT.
Barkan, T. (2018). 10 Reasons for a City Based Strategy. GLOBALSTRAT.
Pic. Dubai, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons.