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April 15, 2008

FEEDBACK: Who's up for a global events industry forum?

Meetings and motivation stalwart Michael J Morris on why he was disappointed with the EIBTM show and the problem with industry associations…

I do not think that the recent EIBTM show in Barcelona was really representative of the Meetings and Motivation Industry. There is a lot more to event and incentive management than the location and venue suppliers are able to offer.

Perhaps the problem is that the Industry is becoming more complex, or that meetings and motivation are two separate industries that sometimes meld or utilise similar resources, such as venues, destinations and some form of travel management. The majority of existing MICE events are firmly rooted in the Travel and Business Tourism Industry. Barcelona and Spain missed a fabulous opportunity to portray themselves as more than just another venue.


Are there too many trade associations?

A recent question to the industry related to the variety of trade associations now plying to be the voice of their sector – are there too many?

Back in 1974, I launched ICOPA, the International Conference Organisers and Producers Association (now defunct). I was, however, being the new naïve boy on the block, informed there was no need for such an organisation as the existing trade bodies were adequately capable of looking after industry concerns.

The ICCA at the time had the most prestige, but was basically a trade leads swap shop. Now we have Eventia, ACE, MIA, HMSA, HSMAI, BAHA, ABPCO and many more. To these you should probably add the Institutes of Project Management and Logistics. Then there's the CIC, IAPCO, ISES, MPI and SITE, which among others have growing reputations and appear to take education seriously.

No more than it's membership

A trade association can only be useful by being a true credential of the industry sector it represents. To be able to do this, all the needs of the membership must be responded to and, therefore, it is totally reliant on the membership’s professional input.

While networking will always be a valuable marketing tool, supporting your trade association should not be driven by a dubious marketing value. Adding multiple logos to your website or letterhead does not enhance credibility unless gained from meaningful organisations. Training, education and continuous performance improvement are the vital issues.

Much has changed, specialists abound, perhaps it is time that they all got together for a purposeful assessment of the industry. Another global forum? Why not? Who is up to the challenge?

Michael J Morris is a former business travel agent, special event tour operator, conference organiser, event stage manager, managing director of a motivation and meetings business and director general of an international convention centre.

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