PCMA and ACTE hope to grow their meetings and expand their benefits with a new strategic alliance.
The Professional Convention Management Association and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives have announced a strategic alliance that will expand their educational offerings, create opportunities for joint research, offer special rates for members attending each other's events, and lay the groundwork for co-locating some events starting as early as January 2010.
PCMA has 6,100 meeting professional members, the majority of whom are U.S.-based association meeting executives, organizing many of the largest meetings in North America and throughout the world. ACTE has 2,500 senior travel industry executive members who come from more than 80 countries.
“We would not have considered this alliance if we did not think it would provide benefits to both our memberships,” said Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO. “Through this alliance, we will offer more to our respective memberships and to the industry as a whole.”
She emphasized that the decision “was not born out of financial problems or a need for revenue,” noting that PCMA membership is up 15 percent. “This is not a merger. We remain stand-alone entities. Both organizations will also maintain their own boards of directors, and there are no intentions for shared board members.”
According to the leaders of both associations, talk of a strategic alliance began in earnest last October when they saw more companies merging meetings and travel management into one role. “There is a continuing convergence of travel professionals becoming responsible for meeting planning, and meetings professionals being asked to manage travel,” said John Folks, 2009 PCMA chairman of the board and president and principal of Minding Your Business Inc.
Though the two groups have no overlapping membership, their leadership sees many similarities between them: Both represent “top-tier” executives, both focus on education, and both are committed to advocacy and research. They hope to collaborate on research, said Sexton, as well as to provide a broader audience for their supplier partners.
No co-located meetings have been announced, but the first could be in early 2010: PCMA's annual meeting is January 10-13 in Dallas. A potential benefit for PCMA members is that ACTE meetings are held around the world. (Its Global Education Conference is October 25-27 in Prague.) “There's no question that co-located events is one of the paths that we want to go down,” said Sexton. “It's a great opportunity and will clearly be one of the major benefits of this alliance. The benefits are not just cost savings, but also the ability to build attendance and benefit the destination.”
While it has earned several awards since its debut last year, Mingle360's handheld networking tool, MingleStick, had a chance to show its stuff to meeting pros at last month's TS2, theabout trade shows.
The MingleStick gadget, issued to TS2 attendees, allows users to exchange information wirelessly. When attendees meet, instead of exchanging business cards, they point their MingleSticks at one another and press a button.
After the show, users plug the MingleStick into a computer to upload information to an online account and see data and photos (if provided) of the people they met.
The device can hang on a keychain or lanyard and be customized with a show or sponsor logo. Sponsorship space is also available online, where attendees review their contacts. www.mingle360.com