Jockeying for Position

Talk about a Surprise. On the job for only a 2½ years, Colin Rorrie Jr., PhD, CAE, announced March 8 that he would be stepping down as president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International that same week. (See story on page 8.) In a press conference that followed, Rorrie's departure was connected to MPI's embracing of something known as the Blue Ocean Strategy, a strategic process that suggests that rather than compete within the confines of an existing industry or try to steal customers from rivals, an organization must launch completely new industries or expand the boundaries of its industry.

MPI is not alone in seeking to reposition itself. Never in my 15 years covering this industry have I seen so many associations and trade shows jockeying for position.

In the past three years, both the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives and Financial & Insurance Conference Planners moved their operations to association management giant SmithBucklin to help them position themselves strategically and grow their memberships. Both also changed their names to better reflect their changing memberships. SITE added the “&” a while back to include incentive merchandise companies, and FICP added the “Financial” a few months ago to encompass the broader financial services industry. The International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus changed its name to the Destination Marketing Association International last summer because it “better represents the essence of what a CVB does — destination marketing.” And then there's the Society of Corporate Meeting Professionals, which just couldn't compete with the larger industry groups and folded last year.

On the exhibition side of the business, TS2, a major trade show for exhibitors, has shifted its focus to include corporate events because more companies are merging events and trade shows into one budget. And the International Association for Exhibition Management is attempting to change its name to the International Association for Exhibitions & Events for much the same reason.

The unfortunate fact is that this is a mature, oversaturated market, with too many players, too many duplicate efforts, shrinking advertising and sponsorship dollars, and less time than ever for members/attendees to bother with any of it. With all of these shifts, have you benefited from the education or services you receive from your industry associations or the shows that you attend? Share your comments with me at [email protected] [2].
Barbara Scofidio


CMI welcomes letters. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. Please send comments to [email protected] [2].

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