The history of our chapter has always been tied to how we communicate and how we express our identity. When our association was young and growing, it had a different name: Meeting Planners International. It took several years before the association recognized that of its many members, barely half of the membership was involved in planning or executing meetings.
As the organization continued to grow, it became very apparent that without the supplier community, the organization could not survive. As a result, both the name of the organization and the rules of who could be involved in the leadership of the national organization and the chapters changed. Thus, the new name of Meeting Professionals International was born.
But the organization had one more step to take before it could become more of a global organization. The national organization had allowed the chapters to assume their own identity and had seen a movement of favoring the local chapters over the national organization . This is when each chapter had its own nickname. So you saw Chicago being known as CAMPI for Chicago Area Meeting Professionals International, and if you went to Wisconsin their nickname was WIMPI.
A lot of this had to do with how we as a business community communicated, which involved a heavy reliance on the US Mail, the telephone and fax machines. People looked forward to their printed newsletters and magazines which carried information of new venues and advertising on ones that had a special offer for you. When we had meeting announcements to send out, most times we sent a flyer or post card, as their postage cost was less than a first class letter.
This also was a time of personal conversations and meetings which created very strong business and professional relationships. People buy or deal with people they know and like, and when you know someone on a personal level the connection is very strong. Yes, the “3 Martini Lunch” was a part of this time, but you also saw people who wanted to exchange ideas and met in person on a regular basis.
It was not uncommon for a meeting planner and their staff to come to a supplier’s office to discuss their conference needs and layout a calendar of events for the coming year. This was also the time when cell phones had started to move from being the size of a brick to something that could fit into your pocket. Email was seen as a way to document a conversation and the size and type of attachments was limited.
As technology evolved it became easier to send larger files and include more color in email attachments. It was accepted faster by younger users as they had much more of a fascination with technology than more senior users. It then became more of a generational way of communicating.
If you look back even just three to five years ago we as an organization communicated much differently and not as frequently. Now we expect to see more communication with a variety of content arriving in our inboxes each day. One thing, though, is important to remember: the style and way you communicate defines who you are as an individual. We as an organization want to encourage as much in-person communication as it creates friendships and relationships that should be an integral part of our professional lives.