Home » Destinations & Venues » An In-depth Comparative Analysis of Seoul and Singapore, World’s Greatest Convention City 1. A Comparative Analysis of Hosted International Meetings

An In-depth Comparative Analysis of Seoul and Singapore, World’s Greatest Convention City 1. A Comparative Analysis of Hosted International Meetings

Among 2013’s top international meeting host cities as disclosed by Union of International Associations (UIA), Singapore came on top for seven straight years (with 952 events in 2012) by registering an overwhelming 994 events hosted. Meantime, Seoul came in 4th with 242 hosted events, moving one notch up with fewer hosted events (5th with 253 events) compared to 2012. As the world’s best convention cities, Singapore and Seoul, with their distinctive capabilities, have led market growth at the front of the world’s international meeting host cities. In this light, the magazine is going to have an in-depth look at the supply side (infrastructure, supporting agencies etc.) and the demand side (number of hosted events, audience size etc.) of the differentiated abilities harbored by Singapore and Seoul as international meeting host cities, and thereby provide insight into promising opportunities into venues of international meetings.


1. A Comparative Analysis of Hosted International Meetings
2. A Comparative Analysis of Supplied Infrastructure
3. A Comparative Analysis of the Operation of Dedicated Agencies
4. A Comparative Analysis of Key MICE-Related Programs

1. A Comparative Analysis of Hosted International Meetings

1) UIA-Based Hosted International Meetings ? Ranking among Host Cities with Intergovernmental Meetings and International Organizations

Singapore: staying on top of the world for 7 years through ceaseless growth
Since 2007, Singapore has kept its top international meeting host city as defined by Union of International Associations (UIA). Especially since 2011, the number of hosted events has risen above 900, currently being the only city with this record, which is expected to crash 1,000 any time soon. Looking at Singapore’s ascendancy for last 5 years, the city-state hosted 689 events in 2009, and crashed 900 by holding 919 events in 2011, after it opened in 2010 a resort multiplex (Marina Bay Sands) and Resort World Sentosa. The country kept on its growth afterwards, and hosted 994 events in 2013, having since remained on top. From 2009 through 2013, its growth rate registered 44%, which was remarkable, considering that the growth of the global market decreased from 11,503 events in2009 to 10,809 events in 2013. Looking ahead, we think that Singapore will stay on top for a while by hosting an increasing number of events.

Seoul: making top 4 through continued growth
In turn, Seoul rose to 9th in 2009 by hosting 151 events and continued its growth up to 2012, coming in 5th with 253 hosted events. The number dwindled to 242 events in 2013, when the city rose one notch up to 4th. The number of international meetings hosted by Seoul rose to over 200 in 2010, after in 2009 the Korean government announced MICE industry as a new growth engine and thereby began to aggressively strengthen its strategic marketing activities designed to host events and promote the city. Accordingly, the number rose above 250 in 2012, but as the overall growth of the global market caused the lowered local growth, making it difficult to making top 5. In contrast, 2013 saw the city coming in 4th despite a decrease of 10 hosted events. Looking ahead, Seoul will have to maintain its growth by hosting minimum 250 events each year, so that it can keep its status in the global market. Since the supply side is currently saturated and it’s hard to expect any further expansion of the demand, we’ll see what follows.

2) UIA-Based Hosted International Meetings ? Ranking among Host Cities for Circulatory International Organization Meetings

Singapore: as the world’s 6th, Asia’s only city that maintains its ranking position in circulatory international meeting market
According to International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Singapore and Seoul slightly differ in even organizing. For Singapore, the number of its hosted events remains between 100 and 200, and while it rose from 119 in 2009 to 175 in 2013, thus registering a total increase of 47% with yearly average of 11.1%, the country’s global ranking, which stayed at 5th from 2009 through 2011, fell to 6th in 2012 and 2013. Considering that the worldwide number of hosted events grew from 8,294 events in 2009 to 11,685 in 2013, registering a hike of 40.9% with a yearly average of 10.2%, Singapore’s performance may not be thought to fall behind, but its relative growth should be read as having languished compared to the pronounced ascendancy of other mid-to-high-level cities. Since Singapore has the advantages not so much as a venue for its circulatory international events as for intergovernmental meetings or meetings hosted by international organizations, its performance appears less unsatisfactory by ICCA than by UIA. Still, it is significant that Singapore is the only Asian city that remains in top ranks of the market for circulatory meetings where European cities are predominant. Looking ahead, Singapore is expected to host a growing number of hosted events, although it should make greater effort to remain where it is.

Seoul: global 9th, making top 10 host cities in 2012
Seoul began by coming in 11th with 90 hosted international meetings in 2009 and took three years to host 100 events in 2012, yet falling to 17th. In 2012, the city hosted 125 events, making top 10 host cities by coming in 9th among cities of the world. According to ICCA standards, Seoul’s performance registered a total growth of 38.9% with a yearly average of 9.7% since 2009, but it slightly sags compared to its performance by the UIA standards. While Seoul has a lot of government-hosted events that satisfy the UIA standards in the international meeting market, it is seen to be relatively weak in hosting and holding the circulatory meetings that fall under the category of ICCA, outperformed by European cities. Seoul has some degree of competitiveness as it comes in second after Singapore, but since Singapore has 50 more events, thus ranked a notch above Seoul (7th) and London hosts 166 events, 41 events more than the city, Seoul should make more aggressive efforts to improve its ranking.

Seoul: strong in government-led international meetings, Singapore: strong in international meetings held by international organizations
Overall, Seoul comes on strong at the international meeting market with government-led demand, whereas Singapore’s international meeting market has secured demand for meetings held by international organizations, thus demonstrating mutually differentiated abilities. Equipped with such competitiveness, the two cities may be understood as being able to maintain their high levels of competitiveness by the UIA standards. Also, considering that both cities show weaker by the ICCA standards, we can see that they make more efforts to secure demand generated in the public sector led by governments, intergovernmental organizations etc. than in the private sector led by private associations etc. Accordingly, by the UIA standards, Seoul is likely to bask in opportunities or face a crisis depending on government-led campaign due to its economic and political factors, while Singapore is expected to maintain its continued ascendancy with the demand for international meetings that meet the UIA requirement, so long as the city hosts an increasing number of international organizations and their activities remain steady. As growth of such demand has its limitations, however, Seoul should make efforts to upgrade its competitiveness in ICCA-compatible meetings (with private associations) or corporate meetings and incentives with greater economic effects targeting a greater groups of consumers, not merely focusing on meeting market but in order to generate economic effects from the meeting market.

3) Current Participants in International Meetings (according to ICCA data)

Singapore: keeping a 1.5% share of global market following a sharp growth in the late 1990s, increasing fourfold from the period of 1993-1997 to that of 2008-2012
According to A Modern History of International Association Meetings published by 2013 in ICCA, the participants in international meetings in Singapore and Seoul are as follows. Singapore took up a 1.5% share of the market for international association meetings by attracting 331,588 participants with its events held between 2008 and 2012. Earlier between 2003 and 2007, the city hosted 257,922 persons, thus registering a 1.5% share of the global market. The number of participants in the international meetings held in Singapore exceeded 100,000 persons from the period of 1998-2002, and has since then drawn 100,000 and 80,000 participants every 5 years, thus establishing a stable basis with a market share of 1.5%. Currently, the city registers a steady ascendancy with regard to its hosted international meetings, and considering that the city’s government continues to develop demand and strategic marketing designed to expand its supply basis and increase participants, the Singaporean number of international meeting participants will be able to register a stable ascendancy.

Seoul: grabbing a 1.7% share of global marketing with its growth from the late 1980s through the early 1990s and registering faltering growth and dwindling share into the first decade of the new millennium
Based on its international meetings held between 2008 and 2012, Seoul attracted total 287,070 participants, thus registering a 1.3% share of global market. Previously, the city hosted 235,196 persons between 2003 and 2007, thus registering a market share of 1.4%, and drew 168,073 participants between 1998 and 2002, thus racking up a market share of 1.3%. Such figures show a fall in its market share compared to the city’s performance during the period of 1993-1997 (1.7% with 151,613 participants) and 1988-1992 (1.7% with 168,073 participants). While Seoul keeps moving in the ranking for hosted events by international associations, its number of hosted events is increasing, and given its all-out effort to attract participants to its international meetings, Seoul is expected to register an increasing number of participants. Considering the intensifying competition with other cities of the world, its specific project proposals for expanding event-organizing facilities for the time being, and the long lead time for international association meetings, it is difficult to expect any comparable growth for Seoul.


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