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August 6, 2012

MPI & HSMAI:Industry powerhouses join forces

At MPI's World Education Conference in St. Louis over last weekend, attendees learned that two different organizations would be joining forces: HSMAI, the organization of sales and marketing professionals representing the hospitality industry, formed a partnership with Meetings Professionals International (MPI), the professional membership organization for corporate, association, and independent meeting planners.

Fran Brasseux, Executive Vice President of HSMAI, told International Meetings Review that the idea for a partnership came from talking with Cindy D'Aoust, MPI COO and interim CEO. "We said, ‘Wouldn't it be great if we could bring the two organizations together to make things easier and more efficient?'" she recalls. They discussed the idea with their respective boards and key members and received positive feedback. Ultimately, they were able to pull much of the partnership together in 90 days.


By joining the hospitality industry to the meetings industry, Brasseux believes that both sides can benefit. "MPI holds the customers of our members, and we hold the business root of their customers," she summarized. "Our hotels need the customers of the MPI member core."

To wit, the recent World Education Conference provided not just a launching platform, but also a prime example of how the groups can work in tandem. Suppliers attending WEC could attend HSMAI sessions like "Hotel Sales Giants Talk About What's Keeping Them Up at Night" and "Sales and Revenue Management: Managing the Relationship." "That was targeted to hotels [at WEC]. It's what we talk about on our side of industry," Brasseux says. In Washington, D.C. next month, HSMAI's MEET National planner and supplier event will have sessions that apply to MPI members.

Ultimately, Brasseux adds, both HSMAI and MPI are looking to add value to the industry through each association's specialties and abilities. "This is just the beginning of the opportunity for our core members to become stronger."

Especially in the wake of the global recession and the GSA scandal, Brasseux feels that both sides of the table need help in proving their worth. Planners may need support in terms of "defending meetings and justifying businesses related to meetings-or choosing venues that may have the name ‘resort.' We're raising our professional acumen against [critics]...There are lots of conversations that we can have if we understand each other." Still, she feels the overall industry is still resilient. "Issues happen all the time," she says. "It might impact a destination for short period, but not the whole industry."

Brasseux is, understandably, optimistic about the partnership and what it means for HSMAI. "We can do better with their help and guidance," she says. "There are things that they can do faster and better...We can do more but we can't do everything."

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