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MESA attempts to bring innovation to meetings and events 

By Michael Jones

The UK has yet another industry association, with the launch of the Meetings and Events Support Association (MESA). The founders behind MESA say their aim is to embrace and support innovation in the meetings and event industry.  

The new organisation says its principal aim is to create a community network of companies and a ‘people-first’ ethos, collaborating and working together with fresh ideas.  

MESA’s Steering Committee includes John Martinez, CEO and founder of Shocklogic; Jelmer Van Ast, CEO and founder of Conference Compass, Felix Stroud-Allen, CEO and founder of CrowdComms; Danny Stevens, CEO and founder of fielddrive, and Sébastien Braun, CEO and founder of idloom. 

MESA ran its first founder roundtable online event In May 2021.  The event was chaired by Gordon Glenister, MESA’s director of communications. “Community is everything and building relationships based on trust and excellence is at the heart of our ethos. MESA has been founded on a principle of making a difference to the multi-billion events industry.” 

CN put a few questions to MESA’s membership director, Sandie McCoubrey (pictured)

What is the target member profile? 

“Event and meeting platforms from the event service side ‘supplying the industry’, e.g. mobile apps, registration platforms, consultancies, moderators, entertainment companies – all those companies that a meeting planners needs to run their event. 

“Planners/event organisers, destinations, CVBs or venues are not eligible for membership. 

“MESA is supporting start-ups with a lower cost membership package as well as the opportunity for our Patron Members to sponsor a start-up.” 

How many members have you launched with, and what is membership target for the next one, three, and five years? 

“MESA has launched with five key industry players who are Patron Members and members of the Steering Committee, who helped guide the launch. 

“MESA intends to carry on the work of the Meeting Design Institute (MDI) which stopped its membership side earlier this year and will approach those previous members of MDI first. MESA had undertaken group ‘membership’ calls with them before the launch with everyone agreeing there was a need to carry on a similar membership based on networking, community and supporting each other.  

“MESA’s focus is on building a community of like-minded specialists, thought leaders and organisations. This community is focused and will remain relatively ‘small’.  MDI remained at around 50 members. MESA hopes it would gain 50 members within the first year, 100-150 within three years and 150+ members within the next five years.” 

Which existing associations does MESA intend to compete with? 

“MESA claims it is not looking at competition but collaboration, and sees its role as supporting the wider events industry and working with other associations where possible. MDI itself, which was a similar association, is fully supportive of MESA.” 

How does MESA differ from existing associations? 

“We are focused on community, education, innovation and are entrepreneurial in our approach. So much so that the first activity has been to win a competition within the events industry based on the TRIPS idea (The Remote In Person Service), recently announced.  

“The Founders Forum online event this September is another vehicle for actors in the sector to exchange ideas.  This association differs because it is a member association run by members. [McCoubrey was the Membership and Partnership Manager at MDI -ed]

“Having reached out to the industry, and with discussions with their key members and potential members, MESA is focused on what industry leaders felt may be lacking from other organisations.” 

How is it funded? 

“Membership principally and initially is funded by Patron Members who have contributed with a two-Year Patron Membership fee. There will be other revenue streams from online events, e.g., MESA EventPlace, where members can pitch their products to meeting planners in Zoom breakout rooms. This has already been run successfully with MDI during the pandemic.” 

Is MESA UK-focused or international? 

“It is largely European based, although we will have, members from outside of Europe, and of course the UK is a key market for us."