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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

The Power of Peers

Each month, I get together with a half-dozen other Lexington freelance writers for a couple of hours. We drink coffee and chat about our work lives. Nearly every day, I log on to an online forum of freelance writers from around the country to see what is being discussed and, it is hoped, glean something valuable.

Each of these peer groups is a worthwhile investment for me. One costs two hours and $1.50 for coffee each month. The other costs $8 a month and has answered many of my questions and solved some dilemmas. Plus, being involved in both groups has reassured me that I am not alone in the challenges I face.

When it comes to peer groups from which to choose, meeting professionals are a lucky lot. The meetings industry is so large that it has sprouted meeting planner organizations to fit almost any need. Some are broad; others are targeted. Some are local and regional; others are national and international.

Each group offers valuable resources, especially conferences and local meetings, where planners can not only learn more about their field but often also earn continuing education credits.

And thanks to increasingly robust websites, many of these organizations now also offer online discussion groups, where members can meet virtually any day, at any hour, to tackle tough issues or commiserate about common problems.

Here is brief information about a few of the organizations aimed at meeting planners. It is by no means a comprehensive list. Membership costs listed are for annual meeting planner memberships.


Meeting Professionals International (MPI)

MPI is the granddaddy of the meeting professionals organizations with 18,500 members representing 71 countries. MPI’s network of local and regional chapters numbers more than 70, with 45 of those in the United States. Membership is $395, with a $50 discount for renewing members.


Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)

To qualify as a PCMA member, planners must spend 51 percent of their time planning meetings and their organization must be responsible for development, management and execution of meetings and conventions. Membership is $360. There are 17 local chapters that cover a wide geographic area. The Southeastern chapter, for example, includes seven Southern states and Puerto Rico.


Association of Meeting Professionals (AMP)

If you live in the District of Columbia, AMP gives you a chance to meet frequently with your fellow planners. The 400-member organization meets in and around Washington monthly, September through May. Other networking and social events are held throughout the year. Membership is $175.


International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals (IAHMP)

IAHMP has six regional chapters and is establishing others in states and major cities where there is a significant Hispanic population. Annual membership is $100.