What is in this article?:
- Why Four Event Industry Association CEOs See a Vital Future
- What trends have had an impact on your association's meetings and how have you adapted?
- What must the industry do to better promote the value of meetings?
- How has competition affected the way you do business?
- How has globalization affected your business and growth?
- How has membership evolved?
- Given all the changes, is the meetings industry at a turning point?
The leaders of ASAE, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Meeting Professionals International, and Professional Convention Management Association are bullish on meetings.
How has competition affected the way you do business?
Years ago, the main place people got adult education was through their associations, but now a lot of education can be found online. So associations have to continue to demonstrate the value they are bringing to their members to keep them connected to the organization.
We have been doing lots of collaboration. Any time there’s an opportunity for industry organizations to come together to benefit their members, it should happen.
People aren’t leaving their offices as often as they used to. They are picking and choosing—going to two or three events a year when they used to go to six. If two organizations can come together and benefit their respective members and add extra value, isn’t that a good thing? Collaboration is absolutely critical, but only if it benefits the members. I think you’re going to see more of it because, frankly, it’s going to be demanded. If you don’t, you may see some organizations go away.
The meetings and events industry has gained a level of sophistication in its life cycle—we’re in ascendancy nowand any time that happens it attracts competitors. It’s healthy and it makes all of the other events in the space have to be better or else they are going to go out of business.
As a general statement, associations are having a much more difficult time today doing well on just dues incomeand the other traditional sources of non-dues revenue. So, if they can’t get along just on their dues, they have to be creative about collaborations that will generate valid content and value. That’s why you are seeing a lot of associations partnering—and you’ll see more of it. You’ll also see some associations that can’t compete go away. We’ve seen that this year with the collapse of theExhibitors Association. Associations are terrific organisms but they are by no means immune to the forces of economics and competition. Down the road, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some mergers, failures, and new organizationsformed.
Competition has increased based on how easily information and content is shared through electronic tools. That’s why it’s important to provide content and networking opportunities that are relevant to your audiencein the delivery formats they want. We are continually reviewing and evaluating the products and services we have and are having more strategy conversations about how to reach markets that are not fully participating with ASAE. We have actually gone out and interviewed organization CEOs as to what we are doing well, what we should change, and what are their needs.
We have to evaluate the needs of our members. We have to look to see if someone else is already providing a solution and if there is an opportunity to add value to another organization’s work and provide a resource to our members. Being smart about how we use staff time and resourcesto provide the greatest value to members often leads us to seeking mutually beneficial partnerships.
Healthy competitionis just that—it keeps us sharp and focused on bringing value. However there comes a point of saturation where it turns from a blue ocean into a red ocean. When you look at the number of associations and events that are targeted at the same audience and supported by the same supplier partners—if we’re not at a red ocean, we’re pretty close. The “opportunity pie” is only so big and the more people that you invite to the dinner table, the smaller the piece of pie becomes.
For us, developing partnerships is a conscious strategy. As leaders, it is our responsibility to bring the industry together on behalf of our members. It doesn’t mean that members need to leave their home community, but we can collaborate to enhance the value we deliver—best-in-class experiences without building it ourselves. Recently, we announced a partnership with Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, and this fall you will see another partnership announcement. At MPI, we will look for partnerships that help us deliver on our mission—making members more successful by building human connections through knowledge, relationships, and marketplace.