What do industry professionals want?

Recently, an industry association raised dues for supplier members in order, we were told, to support education for planner members. In a number of lively discussions among colleagues, lots of concern was expressed: How appropriate is it for one segment of a membership to underwrite the education of another? What is the ROI for those supplying the funds? What do their employers expect for their dues dollars?

In addition to a life-long fascination with how people learn and a career-long fascination with education at industry meetings, this made me think it was time for THE discussion about how we approach industry education and for whom it is designed.

  1. Recently an industry supplier, enthusiastic about my tweets and other social media posts, called saying she wanted to meet me. I believe relationships help us do better biz and said yes. The day before we were to meet, I emailed a reminder and said that I wanted her to realize that my clients made the decision about which vendors to use and I couldn't promise any business would result from our meeting. She responded “maybe some other time then.”  Was she only after the sale? Was she not looking at what we might discuss, the other contacts I could help her make?
  2. At a meeting at ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) about the roll-out of the new Code of (Ethics) Standards

    In training I conduct for industry associations, I watch suppliers arrive for the meal and not the education.  There are of course exceptions; yet I hear all the time that "if the planners aren't there the suppliers won't attend."

    What do suppliers want to learn at an industry program? How do we help them understand that learning with their customers will ensure they can better anticipate and meet needs? What creates a desire to learn? Would, or how would, accountability about what they learned (in addition to who they met, the leads they secured) to their employers impact behavior? end results?

    How do we help MPI and PCMA and ASAE and all the other industry organizations and others who deliver programs understand that all education should address all industry segments?

What am I missing? How do we make it better?


Joan Eisenstodt founded Eisenstodt Associates, a Washington, DC-based meetings and hospitality consulting, training and facilitation company in 1981. Joan is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Convention and Event Tourism.  She is active in the hospitality industry and in her community where she has served on education related boards and those for environmental responsibility.

Active in ASAE, DMAI, MPI, PCMA, and other industry and non-industry organizations, Joan's passions for life-long learning, meeting preparation, risk anticipation and contingency planning, ethical and inclusivity practices, and meeting excellence have been well-recognized: by MPI, HSMAI, and NSA; as an inductee into the CIC Hall of Leaders, by the PCMA Foundation for Lifetime Achievement as an Educator, and most recently, by IACC with the Mel Hosansky Award for Distinguished Service. She is the moderator at www.meetingstodayforum.com

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