Eventia chairman Mark Saxby joined association heads from Meeting Professionals International (MPI), SITE, International Special Event Society (ISES), Institute of Travel and Meetings (ITM) and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) to examine the role of industry bodies into the future.
Agreeing that collaboration was a key element of associations' success, MPI chief development officer Didier Scaillet argued that each has its own niche.
"We should be working together and sitting together," he said. "But it isn't easy."
ITM chief executive Paul Tilstone said: "I understand the discussion in a time of economic downturn but my view [comes down to] market forces. If you support an association it will survive and prosper. If not, then it may be it's not needed."
The merger of Eventia, the HBAA and MIA has been mooted by Motivcom divisional managing director Nigel Cooper - who returned to the Eventia board this year but is not attending the summer conference in Glasgow - and Eventia chief executive Izania Downie.
However, ISES UK president Richard Foulkes explained: "What is really important is that people have a place to belong. There isn't an association that does what ISES does, but the other associations might want to look at it."