Industry association chiefs reject idea of uber association

Meetings industry association
chiefs, speaking at Event UK 22 September, said further
inter-association co-operation was the way forward in a “cluttered market” for
trade associations, while rejecting the idea of being subsumed into one big
association.

At a session entitled ’Raising the
bar: How to get more from your association’, chaired by CN editor Paul Colston, MIA Chief
Executive Jane Evans said there was “no room for an uber association, but there
is room for co-operation”.

It was a message underlined by
UK president of the International
Special Events Society, Richard Foulkes, who admitted the meetings and events
industry was “a cluttered market with 27 industry associations” and advocated
more co-operation and streamlining.

Foulkes said the industry’s
component parts “needed to be clear who they are and associations needed to find
people who want to be part of us”.

Chair of Eventia, Mark Saxby, did
make the case for his association being “the voice of the industry” and thought
there would be consolidations between competing associations. “The more we can
do collectively, the better,” he added.

MPI UK’s
Paul Cook said his association, like others, had witnessed a fall away in
membership during the recession. “Is there a key message to take out to the
wider industry to combat this?” he asked the panel.

Foulkes urged the industry had to
“think internationally” particularly with new legislation emanating from
Brussels likely
to affect future ideas.

ICCA UK Chapter Chair James Rees
said that, in terms of gaining a return on investment for members, his
association provided a unique proposition, amidst “the plethora of associations
we’re now sitting under the Business Visits and Events Partnership”. This was a
structure Rees welcomed, with the industry beginning to work better to lobby
government as a result.

“The variety on the meetings
industry association market,” Rees said, “is not a bad thing, particularly if a
particular association ticks your box.” He gave the example of the success of
the recent Summer Summit held in conjunction with the MIA and
ABPCO.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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