Groucho Marx immortalised these words and although it’s never stopped me being a member of various organisations personally over the years, when it comes to business and company membership, it’s a whole different story. There are already lots of budgetary demands when running a small or medium business as many of my industry colleagues will recognise and decision making about which membership bodies or trade organisations to support is a tricky business.

Its very true that two or more heads thinking in the same direction are always better than one and joining an association can provide you with many benefits,  such as networking, associating with professionals and leaders from the same industry that have similar problems, objectives, and interests. Membership can also in some cases expand the companies’ business opportunities.

We’re members of our local Chamber and as we work with some Associations, it dictates that we need to be members also in order to service our clients fully and demonstrate our support, but when faced with Event Industry organisations it can be a bit of a minefield. There are almost a dozen different bodies representing different aspects of the industry and whilst all of them offer numerous benefits to members, support in all manner of issues and client solutions, as a small organisation we have to weight up the actual benefits about whether its the right association or trade body for us as a business.

Perhaps more importantly than that, would being a member increase our client portfolio, give us more credibility or a more professional reputation to those who make a difference to our business and our income?

Unless the answer is a resounding yes, then until now we have been reluctant to be a part of anything specific as we have not been able to justify another membership. We are of course very aware that many of the established trade bodies do a great job in delivering support and training for the industry and the benchmarking and best practice policies of the HBAA for example are exemplary.

However, as a smaller organisation and one that has been established a while, we are perhaps in a fortunate position in that we are reasonably well connected already. One of the great benefits about our amazing industry is the huge number of fam trips we have the opportunity to attend, and although we try and restrict our participation in these unless we think there is a future business opportunity, you do sometimes enjoy the company of other agents you have met before.

These experiences and interactions can sometimes be as interesting as the destination, forum, fam or hotel you are enjoying and from an initial stance of being merely industry colleagues, friendships are made, working relationships are established and now from numerous discussions with likeminded agencies, the Alliance has been born.

The Alliance of Independent Event Agencies is one trade body that we are more than happy to be a part of and we recognise its not only going to be vitally important to our business but will also benefit our clients as well. From sharing knowledge, resources and education to being able to have a central resource that understands and recognises the needs of smaller independent agencies.

The membership criteria is clear, as the Alliance is only open to small and independent agencies with a limited number of employees and also dictates that members cannot work to override or preferred partnership contracts. But the Alliance is so much more than just a club for smaller agencies – and not one that is ever going to use its collective might to get into disputes with hotels or chains – its about a serious and professional resource that will allow us to share ideas, experiences and education that can actually benefit each of our respective businesses. But more importantly than that, our clients activities which is after all what we all strive to do.

Our individuality is so important and whilst we’re not big on labels here at Cloud 9, sorry Groucho – this is one club we’re fully supporting all the way.