Why association membership is more important than ever
Jan Hennessey, cmp, cmm
Director, Jan Hennessey Events LLC
What value have you found in your FICP membership?
A: I joined FICP in 2000. Having been very active in larger associations, I was used to large conventions, so I found the intimacy of our events refreshing. The value of networking with people who do exactly what you do cannot be overemphasized. Having a targeted network is a distinct business advantage. I have found it pays to tap into the knowledge and experience of the group. There is a high level of trust between members, which means we take advice and referrals from each other very seriously.
With the current focus on cost-cutting coupled with the negative perception of business travel, how will FICP attract new members, retain current members, and keep up attendance at association events?
We've never seen anything like this economic market. Everyone is affected, planners and suppliers alike. Because of the difficult financial situation and the media attack on our industry, people are looking to associations for leadership. In my opinion, association membership is more important than ever during times like these. Our educational offerings include unique opportunities to come together and discuss the issues we are all facing. It's so important to stand together right now. FICP is keeping close tabs on the advocacy work of the U.S. Travel Association and communicating to members.
If companies are no longer supporting association membership, I'm encouraging people to remain members on their own. It is not a time for isolation. We should leverage our most important asset — the collaborative nature of our organization — to help each other navigate in this market.
At the same time, FICP needs to continue looking at how we are providing value to our members. A strong value proposition makes the case for membership.
What initiatives can members expect to see on the communications front?
A: On our Web site, we have changed the look and feel, streamlined navigation, added relevant industry links and documents, and will be introducing two new tools this fall. The first, and the biggest accomplishment for me personally, is the Online Exchange. Planners will enter information about past and future meetings to create a reference tool that will be searchable by all FICP planner members and hospitality partners. Years ago we had a paper version, containing information about meeting sites, speakers, and other details. Planners used it as a resource to call on fellow planners to talk about their experiences. The new Online Exchange will have more detailed information and include supplier ratings, searchable only by planners.
The second new tool will be a Resource Library — a repository of documents, presentations, and other tools.