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Guide: events industry trade associations

When I first entered this industry, what became apparent rather quickly was its multitude of abbreviations and acronyms. It was, and is, a blizzard of letters and to the uninitiated an unfathomable jumble; until now. 

Last month’s cover story saw us explore the role of the Events Industry Board, the events industry’s link to government. But how do you get your concerns to that level of the pyramid? The short answer is that in order to get your voice heard you must join one of the trade associations: but which one, and how much does it cost? 

Here is a cut-out-and-keep guide to the major associations, which we have listed in no particular order.

Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP)

Members: BVEP is an umbrella organisation, representing trade and professional organisations, government agencies and other influencers in the business visits and events sector

Current members: 19

Annual membership fee: £815

What they do: BVEP says its objectives are to “advance the interests, standing, quality, sustainability and growth of the UK events industry; seek greater collaboration across the events industry sectors on common issues; forge close links with Government departments that can influence favourable policies towards the Industry”. The BVEP has to maintain strong relationships with key sponsoring departments, such as the DCMS, DIT and BEIS. 

Notably, the BVEP is seeking a stronger link with the creative industries and other related sectors, and is encouraging more joint events aiming to increase the focus on professionalism and skills development


International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)

Members: Associations, organisers, suppliers

Current members: 1,100

Annual membership fee: Unconfirmed

What they do: ICCA defines itself as a “global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry”.

ICCA represents destinations and experienced suppliers which handle, transport and accommodate international meetings and events. 

Membership comes from 100 countries worldwide. ICCA operates in the international association meetings sector, offering data, communication channels, and business development opportunities. 

The association helps international meeting planners to find solutions for their event objectives, including venue selection, technical advice, assistance with delegate transportation, full convention planning or ad hoc services. 


Event Marketing Association (EMA)

Members: In-house corporate event professionals working in corporate business, association, charity, professional bodies, and government

Current members: 850

Annual membership fee: Free

What they do: EMA is an online community of over 800 members. The platform is content-focused and offers relevant news, insights, industry commentary and jobs. EMA organises monthly events, educational workshops and represents its members at government level through its seat on the BVEP. No agencies or suppliers are eligible to become members, creating a sales-free environment. Members pay for additional services of interest as they go along.


Event & Visual Communication Association (EVCOM) 

Members: Live event, film, digital and creative industries. Members include agencies, freelancers, educational institutions, professional partners and creative professionals

Current members: Over 600 individual members from over 100 membership organisations

Annual membership fee: From £290 

What they do: EVCOM says it aspires to “celebrate and accelerate the success of Britain’s creative industries”. It brings together business innovators who have a shared belief in creativity, innovation and best practice business models. It hosts events for members via industry celebrations, forums, online media and peer-group publicity, conferences and industry awards.


Meetings Industry Association (mia)

Members: Hotels, venues and industry suppliers

Current members: 800

Annual membership fee: From £535 to £1,070

What they do: The Meetings Industry Association (stylised ‘mia’) supports the business meetings and events industry’s venues and suppliers. It runs an environmental campaign called #20PercentLess, which encourages the sector to reduce its reliance on single-use plastic. 

Its AIM accreditation scheme – the UK’s only recognised standard – assures buyers of “quality, professionalism and operational excellence”.


Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA)

Members: Agenices, venues, or companies servicing the corporate accommodation and MICE sectors

Current members: 305 (80 agency; 225 venue)

Annual membership fee: From £100 for agencies; from £405 for venues; from £350 for serviced apartment operators

What they do: HBAA is the MICE and hospitality association that, it says, “drives, promotes and models good business between its members”. 

It champions best practice, ethical working and sound commercial judgement, making HBAA membership the “mark of quality assurance for the sector”.


Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO)

Members: In-house and agency PCOs; university faculty and students; venues; destinations; suppliers

Current members: 170

Annual membership fee: £325 

What they do: ABPCO says it enables “human enrichment” through face-to-face gatherings. It achieves this across its membership by adhering to its published three core values: Excellence: leading industry best practice with passion, professionalism and integrity. Learning: encouraging knowledge sharing; and belonging: and supporting and connecting its member community through collaboration.


Association of Association Executives (AAE)

Members: Professional, scientific, learned and business associations, societies, federations, councils, chambers, and other membership organisations, in all sectors

Current members: 24,000 members and subscribers

Annual membership fee: Free

What they do: The AAE supports employees and officers of membership organisations in their own development and that of the services, products and events they provide their own communities. 

The AAE provides information, education, advice, guidance and networking, through congresses, conferences, leader’s forums, masterclasses, training courses, news and more.  


Association of Event Organisers (AEO)

Members: Corporate organisations

Current members: 86

Annual membership fee: From £1,500

What they do: The AEO represents members and works to understand their shared needs, addressing challenges and developing opportunities which its CEO Chris Skeith says “will broaden membership so other event businesses can learn and grow”. 

The AEO works on four pillars: Representation, Community, Talent and Insight. The association is proactive in developing its educational benefits in terms of staging content driven events and encouraging young talent into the industry. 

The association holds regular networking and social events for its members. Predominantly the AEO works with exhibitions businesses, acting as a voice for the £11bn it brings to UK plc. A third of the AEO’s 1,000 international-operating members export £2.1bn in services, making them a top 10 exporter.


Professional Conference Management Association (PCMA) 

Members: Business events strategists

Current members: PCMA has 7,000 members and an audience of 50,000 across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia; 52% of its total members are planners and 48% are suppliers; 68% of members have at least a decade of industry experience and 78% identify as key decision-makers in their roles. 

Annual membership fee: Unconfirmed

What they do: PCMA has 17 chapters in 30 countries, and says it “drives global economic and social transformation through business events”. 

PCMA looks at events from the perspective of local communities and the benefits events can generate for them. PCMA says it “talks about how to stage major events that contribute to the success of associations, companies and corporations, and make them successful”.


Meeting Professionals International (MPI)

Members: Event planners, suppliers, and students

Current members: 17,000 worldwide, 1,200 in Europe

Annual membership fee: US$289 to $579

What they do: MPI is the largest meeting and event industry association worldwide. MPI says it provides “innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities and business exchanges, and acts as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry”. 

MPI has a global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals including more than 17,000 engaged members. There are 70 chapters and clubs across 75 countries.


International Live Events Association (ILEA)

Members: Creative event professionals from any field

Current members: 4,000+ worldwide

Annual membership fee: From US$300 

What they do: ILEA is an association for event industry professionals around the world who are “passionate about knowledge, networking and event creativity”. 

It says it vision is to be “an inclusive and inspiring global community that develops and engages event professionals while providing an inspiring platform for the best practitioners to connect and share ideas.”


Association of Event Venues (AEV)

Members: Exhibition centres, conference centres, arenas, sport venues, museums and venue personnel 

Current members: 44

Annual membership fee: From £1,400 to £17,000

What they do: The AEV serves an established event venue community and focuses on creating and driving platforms that service fundamental industry needs. 

The AEV is run by its members for the benefit of its members through an elected council of representatives, specialist working groups and a full-time secretariat. The AEV says it “provides members the opportunity to learn from each other, spreading best practice to drive the improvement and growth of our sector”.


International Association of Conference Centres (IACC)

Members: Small to medium conference venues worldwide 

Current members: 380+

Annual membership fee: Each chapter charges its own fee

What they do: IACC is dedicated to representing the most innovative, forward-thinking and results-driven meeting venues globally.

IACC delivers education and research to its members and the wider meetings industry through webinars, research and trends reports.