Glasgow has embarked on a year-long research project to investigate the wider intellectual and social benefits of hosting association conferences.

Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) will spend the next 12 months interviewing clients and analysing data to better understand how destinations can measure the ‘non-economic’ benefits of a meeting.

The ‘Tomorrow’s bureau, today’ project, which the GCMB claims is the first of its kind in the UK, will produce a series of case studies exploring the subject of legacy. The research sits alongside similar work carried out by Business Events Sydney and the Future Convention Cities Initiative, which sought to separate the intellectual benefits of holding a meeting from those related to tourism. The former study proved both qualitatively and quantitatively that business events contributed to both knowledge and visitor economies, and underlined the meetings industry’s role in an aligned economic development strategy. 

Aileen Crawford, head of Conventions at Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “We feel there is an opportunity for destinations to showcase more than just the economic impact of a conference. In Glasgow we always put the client and our academics at the heart of the planning and delivery of a meeting; to ensure both societal benefits and tangible impacts for the specific sectors linked to our association conferences. Defining best practice is part of our model and we look forward to sharing our research as we launch our exciting legacy series.”

Business events are a significant pillar in the Scottish city’s economic strategy. Key meeting sectors for the city align with its existing knowledge centres, including low carbon industries, education, medicine, life sciences, engineering, design and manufacture. Its ambassador programme, a pool of 1,700 influential individuals who are central to the city’s knowledge economy, helped attract half of all the city’s conference business in 2014/15, totalling £70 million.

Additionally, the GCMB has also co-funded research to gain wider understanding of the legacy of one of its biggest ever conferences held in the city, the European Association of International Education, beyond the £7.3 million economic benefit and 4,300 recorded delegate numbers.

Glasgow will report the findings from its legacy impact project throughout 2016.