by By Michael J. Shapiro | August 01, 2009

NL0809 PCMATop brass from the Alexandria, Va.-based Asso­ciation of Cor­porate Travel Executives and the Chicago-based Professional Con­vention Management Asso­ciation announced a strategic alliance on June 25, one that likely will result in the colocation of annual conferences and potential savings in administrative costs.

"I think that we can learn from one another, improve, and add more value to our partners and sponsors," said PCMA president and CEO Deborah Sexton.

No formal agreement had been signed as of press time but, according to sources within the organizations, the boards were hammering out details and soon would announce specific plans.

Sexton speculated that a decision about colocating events would be reached within a week of the announcement, given the tight timing of combining programs as soon as PCMA's Annual Meeting in Dallas in January 2010. If they couldn't pull together a quality program by then, she added, the next opportunity would be next spring, for the ACTE Global Education Conference.

The alliance announcement came on the heels of a major shake-up of the ACTE board of directors. Following a vote against pursuing a merger with the National Business Travel Association, four board members resigned, including the association's president, Doug Weeks, as well as the treasurer and treasurer-elect. Those three executive committee members had been part of a four-person task force investigating the possibility of a merger with NBTA and had been in talks with four NBTA representatives over a period of several months.

According to sources within ACTE, merger discussions took place with Meeting Professionals International, as well. However, said association leaders, the new alliance is not a response to failed negotiations with other organizations. The relationship between ACTE and PCMA dates back more than two years, pointed out newly named ACTE president Richard Crum. "This is something we've worked on for quite a bit of time," he said. "It's not a response to anything else that has happened, whether it's the economy or the discussions about some potential tie-up between us and NBTA."

The two associations have agreed that their members will be able to enjoy the benefits of both groups, including access to publications, research and archived presentations. Joint research endeavors also are planned.