Meetings Industry Associations in Flux
How major changes will impact 5 organizations
by Sarah J.F Braley
Illustration: @istockphoto.com/hamzaturkkolFebruary 1, 2012
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Belonging to a targeted trade association gives professionals a
sense of community and stability as their own jobs grow and change. But
as comforting as it is to think of those membership organizations
working steadily in the background on their constituents' behalf, such
associations also need to grow and change to keep up with the times. In
the meetings world, five industry groups are greeting 2012 with some
major strategy and/or personnel changes.
A new mandate
Officials at two industry organizations have stepped back to reevaluate
how they serve their members. The result is a name change for both
associations and a refocusing of their missions.
ESPA. Created 24 years ago, the Association for Convention Operations
Management, known as ACOM, aimed to support convention services managers
mainly at convention centers. But over the years, the membership base
spread to include housing managers, operations managers, directors of
conventions and trade shows, and more. So at the end of 2011, ACOM
changed its name to the Event Service Professionals Association.
it was founded, convention services managers had been underrepresented
in the industry," says Eric Blanc, CMP, director of sales and marketing
for the Tampa Convention Center and president of ESPA. "But we found
that as it matured, we had not kept up with the changing roles of our
people. Our folks were taking on more tasks and their titles had begun
to change. They are event services people."
Members got the full
taste of the new direction last month in San Diego when, as usual, the
organization co-located its annual conference with the Professional
Convention Management Association's Annual Meeting. The change to ESPA
precipitated a spike in attendance at the event, jumping 16 percent over
the conference held in Las Vegas in 2010.
ESPA also has seen an
uptick in its ranks now that the categories have been realigned and
memberships are being offered to organizations and not just individuals.
Facilities now can enroll five or six employees rather than just the
two or three who would join in the past.
Blanc adds: "The truth
of the matter is that our people are the ones who sell destinations.
Their services keep bringing people back. Our members have long known
this truth, but we're trying as an association to get the word out. Our
educational programming is geared around helping our members understand
ACME becomes CSPI. A similar transformation is
taking place at the Association for Convention Sales and Marketing
Executives. Now called Convention Sales Professionals International, the
organization also is changing to accommodate the broader professional
roles of its members. A strategic planning session last year concluded
that a rebranding was needed to expand the group's appeal and align the
association with other professional groups in the meetings industry.
worked closely with our association management firm to create a new
name and brand that represents where we wanted to go," says Yulita
Osuba, CMP, president of the association as well as senior director of
sales, marketing, event management and exhibitor services for the Orange
County Convention Center in Orlando. "We want CSPI to be the
association for all sales professionals who work for convention centers
and convention bureaus. Dropping 'executive' from our name opens up
membership to all levels and roles in sales and marketing, and adding
'international' helps us to recruit international members."
says the feedback has been very positive. "When the rebranding was
announced to the membership, several people reached out to headquarters
to express their excitement. There is an incredible value in belonging
to an association like CSPI -- we are a community and a network for
career development, and that is never more valuable than in a changing
CSPI's annual conference will take place later
this month at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington,
D.C., with a focus on best practices for salespeople at destination
management organizations and convention centers.