Together we stand

Ask not what your association can do for you, says Jan Booth, vice president, National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA) and managing director, Sunbaba

I’ve been asked many times by industry professionals “what is the benefit of becoming a member of a trade association?”. I like to respond with the simple message that you get out of it what you put in to it. I have in the past known members who renew purely so they can use the organisation’s logo on their marketing material. To me, this is wasting a fantastic opportunity.

Trade associations offer the chance for companies to link together. They act as a point of representation for an entire sector. But the best ones are driven not by their governors, but by their members. The more that a member puts into a trade association, the more they will get out. Joining doesn’t mean that a company will suddenly have new doors opening up in front of them. However, I am strong in my belief that without trade organisations some of those doors wouldn’t be visible in the first place. Trade associations work hard to develop new links and opportunities but rely on the initiative of their members to take advantage of these new avenues. By simply joining and waiting for opportunities to present themselves, members are not gaining the maximum out of the body they have joined. Trade associations often divide opinion, regularly causing both members and non-members to question their relevance and purpose. So how do we address the value that they bring to the corresponding industries that they serve?

Bringing it back to the very basics, trade associations offer both companies and individuals the chance to work and meet in order to discuss the collective issues faced within a sector. In our industry, where we are constantly expected to work shoulder to shoulder with other contractors, it makes complete sense to have a way of sharing our experiences to deliver better results. The value of good working relationships should never be under-estimated. Trade associations offer a channel to develop those relationships. The value to their corresponding sector is a selection of suppliers that know and understand each other, and what event organiser wouldn’t want that?