Which Association Should I Join?

This post is a question to you dear reader. After usurping the right to give you advice, I am now asking for yours. Which association should I join?

There was a time when I was a rebel. If you go back to 2007, you’ll read some furious posts addressed to the event industry. Complaining about control, exclusivity and boring formats.

Before #eventprofs knew they were called like that on Twitter, I started a LinkedIn Group that now accounts for 85,000 members and will reach 100K by the end of the year.

I tried to change the industry by myself. To a certain extent, I brought in small revolutions. Surely I challenged a few people.

In this scenario, associations were the enemy to beat. Running a group that is 3 times the size of the largest meeting planners association, I liked to think (and I still do) I have my own association.

But as Elvis Presley liked to say:

“Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”

Then Change Happened

While attending IMEX, I began to nurture a different perspective.

I started to think it would be a good idea to get into associations to drive people to the wonders of social. Why?

I am thriving to get more opinions, more bloggers, more case studies, more startups in the event industry.

I don’t feel like recruiting more readers, clients or group members. The numbers above show that such mission has already been accomplished.

I guess I am a bit tired of seeing the same faces, the same perspectives, the same products. Including my face, perspective and product.


Let’s Join an Association

With such a premise I decided to join an association.

I will commit some of my time to get to know the association members and evangelise the good word of social media as well as learn from their experience and commitment to the industry. In what form I still don’t know, but my first problem is to join one.

I looked around and the names that pop up most of the times are MPI, ISES, ICCA, PCMA.

Bear in mind I want my new association to cater for the European market as I am in Europe.

Also consider that I am not a professional meeting planner. I consider myself a vendor to the industry. I provide a bit of knowledge and a product.

So, Which Association Should I Join?

Here you go, now I am waiting for your answers. (Hint: you can use the comment sections)



About The Author
Julius Solaris
Julius Solaris is the editor of EventManagerBlog.com, he is an international speaker, author and consultant.
Comment Policy Comments
  • Julius:

    That’s a loaded question for sure! I am going to highlight that you’re asking about trade associations and not just nonprofits. Trade associations exist to help move an industry forward through advertising, advocacy, collaboration, education, lobbying, marketing, publishing and more.

    First, I ask you…do you want to be on the events or meetings/conferences side of the industry. These two segments have not merged into one industry…yet. There are some people who play in both segments but most don’t.

    Second, as a vendor/supplier, expect your fee to be about double that of the practitioner. As a supplier, there is less likely hood that you will be accepted to speak and your fees to attend many events will also be higher than traditional members.

    Third, who is your ideal client and target market? Then look at the demographics of each organization to make that decision.

    Fourth, since you want a trade association with a great presence in Europe, that will automatically knock out some of the orgs you have listed.

    It really comes down to events or meetings; a membership of novices or advanced; cutting edge or traditional; strong European presence or not.

    I have my biases for sure. I see MPI as an organization in flux. ISES is events only. PCMA is for conference and convention managers. I am unfamiliar with ICCA.

    Best wishes as you make your decisions!

    • Jeff,

      Awesome response. Deep down inside I was hoping for such a reply.

      My blog speaks to event planners more than meeting planners, therefore ISES although I am intrigued by the conference side of things.
      I guess I need to research more and and answer your questions. Specially the vendor comment, very interesting.
      Jeff what is your favourite association?

  • Ultimately you may find that joining just one association does not fit all. I encourage you to “shop around” and try out the local meetings of these associations before you join. From what detail you have provided ISES seems like the best fit to join. The cover the breadth of the events industry. They include suppliers and planners at the same rate. Their focus is on being the leader in event education. They have very strong international chapters, especially in the UK and Europe.

    I am the Chair for the Membership Development Committee so feel free to reach out with questions.

    • Sounds good Morgan

      Thanks for taking the time to answer


  • Hi Julius,
    I hope you are well. I’d like to offer some advice as a supplier, a member of many of the associations and as President of the UK & Ireland Chapter of MPI.
    Morgan and Jeff have provided some excellent advice, of which in the most, I completely agree with.
    6 years ago I “shopped” around the associations searching for a community that was both local and global, looking to develop my knowledge in the meetings sector and to gain access to a marketplace of meeting planners and suppliers. I found this with MPI.
    A quick elevator pitch for MPI is that with nearly 2500 members in EMEA, 21000 globally broadly split between meeting planners and suppliers, there is a great community to be involved in. The focus is on meetings rather than special events, which is the space that ISES excels in. MPI & ISES here in the UK work collaboratively and offer opportunities that benefit both sets of members.
    As a supplier member of MPI, ISES, ICCA (suppliers only), ABPCO, AIPCO and Eventia, I may pay a slightly higher joining fee in some of these but the attendee/ticket rate is the same for all here in the UK.
    As someone who can offer great content, MPI embraces this. We have a global content database where your details can be uploaded along with costs, for all our chapters to access. There is no fee for this and you don’t have to be a member as our focus is to make our members more successful by offering quality content, a welcoming local and global community plus access to rich marketplace opportunities.
    I would say that don’t overload by joining all associations. With time so precious, you need to ensure you nurture your association membership, get involved with your local chapter and ensure you get the most for the money you are investing, after all it is a personal investment!
    MPI UK & Ireland are holding an event on September 17th which I am personally inviting you to. You will learn about the benefits, the people and the successes of the membership. You will get an opportunity to network with old and new members and will leave knowing (at least) if MPI is right for you.
    Good luck and let me know if I can be of any more help, with any of my “hats” on.
    Warm wishes,
    Samme Allen
    Head of Sales – Barbican Centre
    President MPI UK & Ireland Chapter

    • Samme,

      thanks for the very informative reply. And of course for the invite.

      I will definitely review your comments when making my decision.

      I would love to attend but I am living in Italy these days, so I guess I will check with the Italian chapter.

  • Kim Alderden

    Hey J, what a great question and dito comments. In our company (ATP Event Experts, here I am part of the Concept & Communication team) we have several memberships at MPI, SITE etc. I agree to Samme that MPI is doing a very good job. (Especially the yearly event in the Netherlands is a huge success) At the same time the comments of Jeff are very true as well. However I feel that the ‘man or woman on the steering wheel’ of an association is of major importance. An association should be run like a company. Only with a clear strategy and focus it will be successfull. What I personally would encourage is a kind of new movement where social media would play a leading role and were engagement is key. In Share Today (the communication platform I founded together with my partner) we see that this is the major hick-up. There are so many global creative minds and fast forward thinkers in our industry, how could we bond these together and creative the utmost inspirational movement for the next 10 years?
    Something for you to start maybe??

  • Is this choosing if you are to join or not to join? Associations do have a lots of benefits which includes a good advantage on networking. Once you’ve joined the association you feel comfortable with, I bet that you can get the most out of it. Joining a professional organization requires some dedication, but your involvement will help you to stay on top of what’s happening in your field of expertise or industry.

    • Thanks for the feedback Hermes,

      I will join – just evaluate which association.

Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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