May 25, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Sydney and Melbourne have come in at number seven and number 12 respectively in new research quantifying the number of influential local industry figures with leadership positions in global associations across 350 cities around the world.

Meetings industry strategic consultancy GainingEdge has also rated each destination’s potential via a Harnessing Ratio indicating how well local industry in positions of international influence are likely being utilised to win international bids for their home cities.

GainingEdge’s rationale is that local representation on global boards and committees should help destinations secure bids – providing bureaus are leveraging that talent in their bidding processes.

Australia ranks sixth globally, while Sydney saw the largest growth – across all 350 cities – in global board representation between GainingEdge’s first iteration of this research, in 2020, and this latest 2021 edition, gaining 46 influential positions in global associations. Melbourne gained 16 board positions and rose two spots in the rankings.

“We see intellectual capital engagement as a key to success for a meetings destination,” said GainingEdge’s CEO Jon Sivertson.

“Cities need to explore who are their local leaders with a strong international reputation, and how to engage them.

“All meeting destinations aspire to increase their conversion or bid win rate. In order to achieve this, destinations should undertake ‘smart’ bid strategies. A very effective tool is to engage local leaders with a strong reputation to support their bids.”

Sydney was singled out as one of the cities to watch, given its high placement in terms of association leadership representation and its relatively low Harnessing Ratio – at 28 per cent – which indicates it has significantly more potential to fulfil in terms of leveraging its industry leaders with association influence to win more conferences for the city. In absolute terms, Sydney has held or booked 107 international meetings with over 500 delegates between 2018 and 2021 and has 382 board representations.

At 37.6 per cent Melbourne’s Harnessing Ration is significantly better than that of Sydney. With 314 association leadership representations, Melbourne held or booked 118 international conferences between 2018 and 2021.

“Our Harnessing Ratio provides a great starting point for assessing how to leverage intellectual capital and what action destinations should take to increase its use,” said Sivertson.

“By identifying sectors that the destination wants to support and promote, convention bureaus can choose to bid for meetings of associations that strongly contribute to the development of these sectors and take a lead in the strategic implementation of the city`s economic development.”

Globally, the top five cities with most local representations on international association boards are London, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing and New York, with New York the only city to lose its overall share of association leadership representation, dropping 56 positions.

In terms of the Harnessing Ratio, Prague is way out in front globally, on 95 per cent, with 161 association board positions in 2021 and hosting or booking 153 global meetings between 2018 and 2021. Dublin and Lisbon are next, with ratios of 81.9 per cent and 81.8 per cent respectively.