My Misgivings About the MPI, Jumeirah Global Partnership

A couple of weeks ago while I was at IMEX, it was announced that MPI was forming a strategic “global” partnership with Jumeirah Hotels.

At the time, I had some misgivings about this and a couple of people wrote to me including someone who said:

Dear Keith: #MPI is not endorsing a product, rather partnering on different joint initiatives with Jumeirah

Joint initiatives are a good thing. They are. They can benefit an industry and help people grow.

I am not seeing this here, or perhaps, I am missing the point which has been known to happen. In the press release it states:

The current three year agreement commits MPI to train Jumeirah event professionals in preparation for obtaining their Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credentials. Additionally, Jumeirah now has access to marketplace opportunities leveraging exposure to MPI members’ US$16.4 billion buying power. The partnership also includes a Jumeirah investment with the MPI Foundation to advance research on the future of meetings.

I have highlighted the key point. Jumeirah now has access to MPI members and their 16.4 billion buying power with the fuzzy words “leveraging exposure”. This is what concerns me. MPI it seems, is not looking out for all of their supplier members, they are looking out for the members with the deepest pockets……thus thrusting a brand on their members. When you are doing this, you use foggy sayings like “access to marketplace opportunities”.

Shouldn’t MPI be working with all hotels to prepare their event people for their CMP; shouldn’t they be working with all hotel members to “advance research on the future of meetings”, shouldn’t they be helping all of their supplier members to further the meeting objective.

I think that there is an underlying statement here: You give us money; we will get you in front of the right audience (and not let the audience know that it is pay to play). Perhaps the person who wrote the note above is correct, maybe MPI is not endorsing a product on the front end, but it would appear that they are tacitly giving their approval by allowing Jumeirah “access to marketplace opportunities” in return for a large sum of cash and “training”.

All of this being said, I have NO problem with advertising or marketing in any sense. Associations cannot live by membership dues alone. Non-dues revenues are key to any association’s survival.

Now, MPI should be free to allow supplier members the ability to advertise, market, exhibit, etc, etc. Supplier members who opt to take advantage of these opportunities should have access to members. It should all be above board and transparent. Members of any association should expect to be marketed to.

What I do have a problem with are these cozy deals that shut other supplier members out by not allowing them the same opportunities to reach the member audience and deals that allow certain companies the opportunity to market to members where the marketing is not really “marketing”. If I were Hilton, Marriott or Fairmont I would be a tad upset, just a tad.

Now, there are things that I am not privy too. Perhaps this deal was offered to all of the supplier members and Jumeirah was the only company to take the bait. Then all bets are off, my mistake… but I don’t think that this is the case. This seems a lot like Chicago politics……..

I don’t know, I just get an uneasy feeling about this and I don’t know why, it has been bugging me for two weeks, I have reread the release over and over to see what I am missing. I have also asked every senior level event planner I know and they have the same feeling (oh, and I have asked a lot of senior planners). We just can’t put our finger on what it is that bothers us so much.

If anyone can tell me why this is a good thing, please do, I am open to changing my mind. Perhaps the press release did not communicate the true good intention of this partnership and I should be shouting about what a good thing this is, which I am happy to do.

On the flip-side, if anyone can tell me why I and other planners are uneasy about this, let me know as well…… I just can’t shake the feeling and can’t really put it in words.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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