Largest ICCA Congress ever held in North America kicks off in Houston, USA
Largest ICCA Congress ever held in North America kicks off in Houston, USA
TOHOLOGY, 28 October 2019

Meetings industry professionals from across the globe have descended on Houston, Texas, USA this week for the 58th ICCA Congress, one of the most prestigious events in the international association meetings industry’s annual calendar. With almost 1,000 senior meetings industry professionals and association meeting planners from 75 countries in attendance, the International Congress and Convention Association’s 2019 Congress is the largest ever held in the North American region.

Over the next four days, delegates will experience a cutting-edge programme of education, networking and business opportunities. Bringing together a world-class roster of global and local speakers from in and outside the meetings industry, sessions at the 2019 edition of ICCA’s annual flagship event will explore collaboration and meetings industry advancement from multiple perspectives. The education session also plays a key focus on knowledge transfer and host destination impact.

Expertise from in- and outside the industry on innovation and technology

This year’s Congress theme is “Innovation and technology”. Leading figures from various industries are appearing as keynote speakers, bringing delegates into contact with an even more diverse range of subject areas and depth of expertise than ever before.

Such speakers include Houston local Scott Parazynski, a former NASA astronaut and the first man to have both flown in space and summitted Mount Everest; Soulaima Gourani, who as one of Denmark’s most inspiring business women will lead the annual Copenhagen Denmark Lecture; and Scott Stratten, an expert in viral marketing who will be sharing his knowledge of how organisations can embrace disruption.

Interdisciplinary association Pumps & Pipes, who specialise in creating interactions and knowledge transfer between unconnected professional groups and are based in Houston, will share their expertise on facilitating innovation through cross-industry collaboration as part of the programme.

“Out of the box sessions” include technical tours of Houston Spaceport, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and TMCx, a healthcare and life-science incubator located within the world's largest medical center in Houston, shaping the future of health care by uniting promising innovators with the best minds in academia, science and medicine.

In an examination of how association clients view collaboration, a panel of association executives and destination marketers will also debate the successes and failings of how the two sides work together.

Facilitating active learning and legacy-driven knowledge transfer

With an emphasis on increasing educational return-on-investment for each delegate, the meetings design of each session is based on a philosophy of active learning and include a way for delegates to work with each topic on an interactive basis for improved information retention. A professional team of moderators are working alongside the ICCA team and Educational Committee to support the learning experience, guiding each session’s direction and ensuring delegates receive useful and impactful takeaways.

Senthil Gopinath, ICCA Chief Executive Officer, said: “At each annual Congress, ICCA seeks to break new ground with an innovative, up-to-the-minute programme, providing answers to our global membership’s most pressing questions regarding the evolution of the international association meetings industry and addressing its futuristic topics.”

“The changing face of our industry is a constant source of debate and discussion. Through the unique opportunities for knowledge sharing on offer at the ICCA Congress in Houston, we aim to cement our industry’s vital role as a driver of global progress, with our members as the leading innovators.”

Furthering the growth of the USA’s and North American association meetings market

This is ICCA’s largest Congress ever in North America. Through its 58th Congress, ICCA aims to supports its members in the North America Chapter in advancing the importance of their region’s international association meetings market. Maximising the knowledge transfer opportunities and educational legacy for the benefit of the host destination plays a significant part in how ICCA plans to increase the market’s footprint and influence in the U.S.A.

Daniel Palomo, Director of Global Sales, Visit Houston said: “The ICCA Congress has been long awaited in Houston and now is finally here. It will be a great platform to help position our destination even further among the leaders in the international association meeting market, especially in the US. We are very proud and excited to host 50 international associations clients and at least 100 global PCOs that can potentially bring additional business to our city.”

“Also, the Congress will be a great platform to educate our local industry and community through a series of engagement programs mainly focusing on the relevance of the meetings industry beyond the tourism impact.”


According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism saw a 182% year-on-year increase in January-March 2022, with destinations worldwide welcoming an estimated 117 million international arrivals compared to 41 million in Q1 2021. Of the extra 76 million international arrivals for the first three months, about 47 million were recorded in March, showing that the recovery is gathering pace.

The International Congress and Convention Association has published its country and city rankings by estimated total number of participants as part of its public abstract of the 2018 statistics report, offering an alternative perspective on the growth of the association meetings market.

2018 was a record-breaking year for congresses in Paris. The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau published its annual study – «Congress Activity» – to decipher the characteristics and evolution of meetings sector, a strategic one for the French capital, which largely contributed to the positive attendance record of the destination in 2018.

The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, is partnering with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry, to bring essential business reopening resources to ICCA members. 

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