PCMA Reports Record Membership During First Town Hall Meeting

In 2011, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) reached a record level of membership, achieving 6,400 members and a retention rate of 83 percent, it reported yesterday at the organization's first-ever Town Hall Meeting.

Held at the 2012 PCMA annual meeting, Convening Leaders, in San Diego, the purpose of the Town Hall Meeting was to connect PCMA and PCMA Education Foundation leaders with PCMA members in order to share the organization's 2011 accomplishments and discuss its plans for the future.

"The Town Hall Meeting was a new method for joining in conversation with our members about where the organization is at, and where we think it could go," said PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton. "We really take their feedback to heart."

In addition to PCMA's membership milestone, leaders discussed the following highlights from 2011:

• PCMA's strategic investment in the Virtual Edge Institute to accelerate the development of education and standards for virtual events;
• The creation of a New Professionals Task Force to engage new or younger professionals in PCMA;
• Efforts to help connect domestic and international meeting planners and suppliers;
• The development of virtual events and social media to expand the organization's reach;
• More than $200,000 in grants and scholarships awarded by the PCMA Education Foundation; and
• The funding of a major study, "The Future of Tradeshows," also by the PCMA Education Foundation.

"PCMA is coming off a successful year, and a very successful annual meeting," Sexton said. "But we must continue taking risks on behalf of our members, we must continue to seek out innovation, and we must continue to be a leader in the meetings, conventions, events and trade show industries."

In the coming year, Incoming PCMA Chairman Kent Allaway, vice president of meetings and trade shows for the Produce Marketing Association, said he will focus on embracing digital delivery vehicles that will help PCMA members learn and connect, extending the PCMA brand and its offerings to the global community, and developing targeted programs and tools to serve members in specialized niches.

"From the risks we take for our members to the research we support and the trends we set for the industry, PCMA will remain a leading force in the convention and meetings industry community," Allaway said.

Incoming PCMA Education Foundation Chair Liz Erikson, executive director of meetings and incentives for Fairmont-Raffles-Swissotel, said her goals for 2012 include better communicating the foundation's activities and goals, creating a long-term strategic plan for the foundation, and further developing a planned giving campaign that was launched last year.

"I think we've done very well in light of the economy in the last few years, and have been very wise in how we've managed our money," Erikson said. "Yet I want to make sure that all of members truly understand the impact of what the Foundation does."