The report shows that almost half (48%) of the event agencies surveyed are members of EVCOM, while a further 11% had MPI membership, 8% were ILEA members, 12.5% ITM members, 8% Chartered Institute of Marketing members and 13% part of the HBAA.
Are associations doing enough?
However, despite high levels of membership, not all agencies are convinced that these organisations are delivering enough. CEO and founder of AddingValue, Randle Stonier, said that an association has three key roles. "The first is to promote the cause of its members, the second is to educate through relevant, inspiring programmes and the third is to protect the interest of members through lobbying government and getting your voice heard at the table."
He added that some associations, such as MPI, do a good job with educational content, while others seem to lack clear objectives. "I can’t say there are any associations that meet all three criteria for the UK market."
EVCOM chairman Steve Garvey admitted associations did need to improve educational content. "EVCOM recognised this a while ago and put we’ve been putting plans in place. We have the EVCOM Academy taking place in September, which will focus directly on skills and business management. Our annual conference is moving to the winter and will include more educational content. All of this is driven and delivered by our members."
Garvey added that limited resources can also be an issue for associations, as budgets are squeezed. "We have a small number of staff taking on a larger amount of work," he explained. "It’s an additional challenge we have to work against."
Jacqui Kavanagh, CEO Trinity Event Solutions and past chair of HBAA, added that the voluntary aspect of association roles was also a key challenge. "Most association roles are voluntary and people have busy, full-time jobs. For obvious reasons, that means people’s paid positions come first."
Despite criticism in the industry, Zibrant’s managing director Fay Sharpe said associations still play a valid role. "There are lots of independent agencies in the UK who need to feel like they have a voice. They should be working at a higher level to work out how we can get better support. What are the leaders of our active associations doing to bring investment and support from government? It’s not a criticism - more of a question."
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