As faith-based meeting planners many of the challenges your face as the same challenges that corporate, association or sports planners face. You have to find the right venues. You have to coordinate travel for your VIP members. You have to prepare budgets and figure out how to prove a return on investment of your meetings and events to your church or organization’s board. One place to find education and resources to do all of those things is with industry membership organizations, which can offer a number of benefits, including educational opportunities and peer-to-peer networking events. Not all organizations are the same, though. Some appeal to planners at the beginning of their careers; others to experienced planners in leadership positions. Some are geared toward planners in specific meetings segments, while others tailor programming to all meeting planners. It’s important to consider what organizations can offer you professionally and the level of commitment you want to make to them before joining.
Professional Convention Management Association
ABOUT: Based in Chicago, the Professional Convention Management Association is comprised of 6,000 members from 17 chapters in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Members are corporate, association and independent meeting planners as well as suppliers servicing the industry. At the forefront of PCMA’s mission is to provide a “sharp focus on offering relevant and forward-thinking senior level education,” according to Chairman of the Board Kent Allaway, CEM, CMP, vice president of meetings and trade shows for Produce Marketing Association. Allaway says the organization takes risks in providing education at its annual conference in order to uncover new ideas, best practices and innovative solutions.
INNOVATION: PCMA’s past Chairman of the Board Susan Katz, director of corporate events and travel for True Value Company, agrees that the organization’s risk-taking has opened new areas of learning. For example, the Learning Lounge featured at its annual conference contained a Bring Your Own Device area where members could learn how to create marketing materials right from their own devices. But most impressive to Katz is how the strategy of the organization has moved forward. “We’re not just talking nuts and bolts of meetings anymore,” Katz says. “We are starting with the purpose of the meeting: What are the goals? It’s a different way of looking at our role in an organization as well.”
INITIATIVES: PCMA has taken many steps to assist its members in the current economy. The association’s strategic partners have offered scholarships, programs and support to help those impacted by the economy. The organization also ran a popular webinar series in 2011 called “Coming Under Budget,” which was a focus at its annual conference in June. PCMA has joined forces with other membership organizations to complete an economic impact study. “This document allows planners to speak to high level management within their organization about the value of face-to-face meetings,” says PCMA board member Willie Benjamin, senior meeting planner for the International Reading Association. “Finally we have a document that shows the country the financial impact of meetings to our economy.”
COST OF MEMBERSHIP: $360 corporate, association, trade show or independent planner; $485 supplier; $40 student; $205 faculty
ASAE, The Center For Association Leadership
ABOUT: Headquartered in Washington, D.C., ASAE, the Center for Association Leadership, was founded in 1920 and is comprised of more than 21,000 association executives and industry partners representing 10,000 organizations. ASAE members manage trade associations, individual membership societies and voluntary organizations throughout the United States and in nearly 50 countries around the world.
HIGHLIGHTS: ASAE University provides a multitude of face-to-face and online educational opportunities throughout the year. The programs provide training in association management, leadership and governance, as well as functional areas such as finance, human resources, marketing and technology. According to ASAE’s President and CEO John Graham IV, CAE, the planner can not only gather knowledge and professional development in meeting planning, but also knowledge and learning on all of the aspects of association management. “That value proposition provides the planner with outcomes. First, they can advance their career into other aspects of association management, which may include meetings, but so much more,” Graham says. “Second, because they can become knowledgeable in more areas, they are that much more valuable to their organization because they will better understand the needs of the organization in seeing a bigger picture.”
HOW IT’S CHANGED: Graham says ASAE has invested significantly in research capabilities in the past five years with a primary focus being current and future meeting and trade show trends. In fact, the organization is partnering with the Cornell School of Hospitality to conduct a study on the future of trade shows. In an uncertain economy, this education has also focused on innovation and globalization. According to ASAE board member Patrick Natale, P.E., F.ASCE, F.ASAE, CAE, executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the organization has created an innovation fund and a committee to focus on what they can do differently in the industry. “We also have a global initiative to look at what we can do outside the U.S. and partner with other countries to meet the needs of associations in other parts of the world,” Natale says.
INITIATIVES: Graham says ASAE has created a number of programs to assist members in a fledgling economy. Its young professional membership category offers a greatly reduced rate for individuals under 30. Scholarships are also offered to those who come from smaller organizations without the resources to send staff to meetings. In addition, group memberships are offered to small staff associations including a package of learning opportunities delivered online. There is also a learning subscription program called Circle Club in which the organization buys a package of professional development learning opportunities. “It works like ticket packages for baseball games in which you can choose X number of tickets for Y number of games depending on how much you pay,” Graham says.
COST OF MEMBERSHIP: $265 association professional staff; $295 association chief executive; $395 industry partner or consultant; $100 association young professional; $30 full-time student
Meeting Professionals International
ABOUT: Headquartered in Dallas, Meeting Professionals International was founded in 1972 and is comprised of more than 23,000 members belonging to 71 chapters and clubs worldwide. Members are meeting and event professionals who both plan meetings and provide services to the industry on a variety of levels.
HIGHLIGHTS: MPI’s educational opportunities are indicative of its global presence. Its annual World Education Congress is based in a different U.S. city each year, attracting members from around the world, while its European Meetings and Events Conference selects a different European city, specializing in that market. In addition, MPI provides research in four main areas: the business value of meetings; Strategic Meetings Management; Corporate Social Responsibility; and the future of meetings, which focuses on emerging issues and trends.
CHAPTERS: With 71 chapters, MPI is dedicated to funneling education on a local and regional level. Michael Dominguez, vice president of global sales for Loews Hotels and Resorts and an MPI board member, says the organization has focused on proprietary educational content for the chapters to assist with the quality and consistency of the experience for its members. “The strength of the MPI chapters allows for a constant point of face-to-face contact and education within the area you live or work in most cases,” Dominguez says. “This is a huge advantage and opportunity for planners.”
INITIATIVES: In an effort to assist planners in a down economy, MPI focused on subsidizing and delaying member dues. Dominguez says MPI leadership also took an active approach in assisting with networking opportunities for those who were looking for new employment opportunities. “Much of this work was done at the chapter level and we were able to see firsthand that the MPI community is truly a family,” Dominquez says. “We were there to help take care of our own.”
COST OF MEMBERSHIP: $375 corporate, association, nonprofit or government meeting planner; $500 meeting supplier; $40 students; $195 faculty
International Association of Exhibitions and Events
ABOUT: Headquartered in Dallas, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events was founded in 1928 and comprises more than 8,000 members representing more than 1,300 organizations. More than 50 percent of IAEE’s members are directly involved in the planning, management and production of exhibitions and buyer/seller events. The remainder of the membership consists of those who provide products and services to the industry.
MAIN FOCUS: IAEE focuses exclusively on the exhibitions industry and events that bring buyers and sellers together such as road shows, conferences with an exhibition component, and proprietary corporate exhibitions. According to IAEE Chair Doreen Biela, vice president of engagement and events for Lightspeed, the organization is different from other industry associations because of its unique relationship with the general services contractor, creating a balance of both sides—suppliers and event organizers.
HIGHLIGHTS: IAEE’s educational opportunities include the Certified in Exhibition Management professional designation program and the IAEE Sales Academy professional certification program. Its annual event, Expo! Expo! (pictured), provides premier industry education and networking opportunities. Biela says that in the last 18 months, the organization has taken a step back and looked at where the industry is going and how it affects the end user. IAEE created the Job Analysis Task Force to focus educational content around the member’s job responsibility. “We looked at the skill sets and knowledge base around that core competency to assist them in developing personally, as well as being able to take what they learned back to their company,” Biela says. IAEE is part of a coalition that includes the U.S. Travel Association and lobbies Capitol Hill for advocacy of the events industry.
RESEARCH: IAEE’s Center for Exhibition Industry Research produces research studies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of exhibitions. According to IAEE Treasurer Skip Cox, president of Exhibit Surveys, CEIR’s research shows how to improve the value of a show. “The purpose of an association should be to help us cope with the economy,” Cox says. “The CEIR Index data gives us key economic indicators and a growth outlook for the next three years.”
BENEFITS: In addition to valuable education, IAEE offers networking opportunities through its events and online community. Chair-elect Jason McGraw, CTS, CAE, senior vice president of expositions for InfoComm International, says members are able to keep abreast of the latest trends through IAEE’s Listserv. “Members can collaborate and share ideas through this online community,” McGraw says. Expo! Expo! also offers sessions according to experience level, which allows members to network on a peer-to-peer basis.
COST OF MEMBERSHIP: Starts at $500; varies depending on annual exhibition and event revenues
International Special Events Society
ABOUT: Headquartered in Chicago, the International Special Events Society was founded in 1987 and comprises more than 7,200 members in more than 38 countries. Its members are special event planners and producers (from festivals to trade shows), caterers, decorators, florists, destination management companies, rental companies, special effects experts, tent suppliers and many more professional disciplines. ISES was created to help connect event professionals and focus on the event as a whole, rather than its individual parts. To that end, ISES fosters a creative network between all the varied disciplines of its members. “ISES is an affiliation of professionals who work in the creative event industry,” says Richard Foulkes, past president of ISES U.K. Chapter and a member of ISES’s International Board of Governors. “Our members have varying experience and industry specialization but they all recognize the importance of creativity as a means of communicating, connecting and providing positive experiences for audiences.”
HIGHLIGHTS: ISES offers a variety of educational programs in the form of an annual professional development event, Eventworld, and chapter events and meetings. ISES members have the opportunity to obtain their Certified Special Events Professional designation, which recognizes educational performance, experience and service to the industry.
CONNECTION: Perhaps the greatest education experience ISES offers is the ability to network with a global source of professionals. “The International Special Events Society provides the connections to people of like mind from around the world as well as around the corner, from Dallas or Vancouver to London, Sydney or Hong Kong,” says Foulkes. “It is from this truly international network that one gains new ideas and new ways of thinking, but it also provides validation of one’s own abilities or shortfalls.”
COST OF MEMBERSHIP: $399 primary member; $299 secondary member or nonprofit; $35 student member
Green Meeting Industry Council
ABOUT: Green Meeting Industry Council is a global community made up of meeting and event planners, the supply chain that supports meetings such as hotels and venues, and sustainability experts. GMIC acts as an expert resource for other meeting associations whose broader mandates include a commitment to sustainability. Headquartered in Beaverton, Ore., GMIC became a member organization in 2005, with a primary focus of educating its members on what needs to be done in their jobs and events to meet sustainability standards. For the past four years, GMIC has been conducting an effort to develop these standards in accordance with the Accepted Practices Exchange and ASTM International. According to GMIC Executive Director Tamara Kennedy-Hill (pictured), there was confusion on how to apply these standards in the real business context of an event. “Our role at GMIC is to provide guidance on how these systems and tools work together for business benefit, whether you are new to sustainable event management or an advanced practitioner,” she says.
INITIATIVES: In addition to its already robust educational offerings, GMIC will add two new workshops to assist industry professionals in using the new standards: a foundational course on sustainable meeting planning and a seven-step program on integrating APEX/ASTM standards into meetings operations.
BENEFTIS: GMIC members receive discounts to the organization’s monthly webinars, face-to-face workshops and annual conference. Chapter meetings are experiential programs that provide members opportunities such as touring the back of house of a hotel or going to a farm. The subscriber membership level offers access to webinars and guides. “Planners can still participate in the community at a reduced rate,” Kennedy-Hill says.
COST OF MEMBERSHIP: $185 individual membership; $70 faculty membership; $35 student membership