Associations exist to shape the future of our sector - join!

Why does an industry association exist? In our sector alone there are numerous bodies, all with their own acronym and each setting out to benefit its members. But what are the main benefits? As I see it, there are three key reasons for joining.

Firstly, there are personal benefits. This could simply be the chance to network or a centre of excellence, receive updates on legislation or, more tangibly, get access to technical information and research, that the association buys on behalf of its members.

Secondly, there's the benefit of having quality hallmarks to which all members must adhere, ensuring the professional status of the industry.

And thirdly, and the one that I consider to be the strongest - and indeed the key remit for an association - is its influence on the industry as a whole. Members should expect associations to lobby government to shape the industry. Mounting bureaucracy is one of the big threats, and we need to have our concerns aired to change things for the better.

One association alone is not enough. To have significant impetus we need to unite behind a collective voice. Having a power base that incorporates all the players in the industry - agencies, airlines and suppliers - is what will make the Government take note.

The proposed new Eventia will be a first step in this direction and will welcome the participation and lobbying power of other associations. But imagine if a phalanx of UK associations joined forces with other bodies in Europe - the European Parliament would have to take notice then.

I would say to anyone who criticises an association: "Stop! It's your association, join it and then tell it what you want it to do. If you want things to change for the better, then take some responsibility to make it happen.

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