Chicago and Midwest Meetings and Hospitality Groups Unite

Eleven meetings and hospitality groups in the region have created the Midwest Meeting and Event Collective (MMEC) to combine advocacy efforts, support each other, and develop a richer community.

Author: Curt Wagner       

PCMA Greater Midwest Chapter Awards

Members of the PCMA Greater Midwest Chapter attend the chapter’s awards ceremony in March. The chapter is one of 10 area meetings and hospitality groups who are now part of the Midwest Meeting and Event Collective. (MK Event Photography)

PCMA’s Greater Midwest Chapter has teamed with 10 other meetings and hospitality groups in the region to create the Midwest Meeting and Event Collective (MMEC), with the goal of combining advocacy efforts and developing a richer hospitality community.

“Some of our big goals are to collaborate and share with each other what we’re doing to help support each other,” Molly Witges, CMP, DES, and immediate past president of the Greater Midwest Chapter, told Convene.

Molly Witges

Molly Witges

One way to support member organizations — which are made up of volunteers already busy with their own jobs — is to combine events in the region, said Witges, who serves as senior director of customer engagement at Questex. Prior to the pandemic, the community often had several events in a month, she said, a situation that could be difficult for community members who are working long hours during the industry’s recovery. “The community just doesn’t have the capacity to show up to all the things they used to,” she said. “And honestly, we used to get 200 people at an event, but now you’re only maybe getting 75.”

Combining events “is a way for all of us to kind of work smarter, not harder” and supports potential sponsors by “making sure we’re creating rich event experiences so that they can meet more prospects, they can network, and maybe get more out of their sponsorships,” she said.

Currently, the group is working on branding, formalizing the charter, and setting up a resources page, likely on LinkedIn.

The seeds of the MMEC were planted in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, when Rachael Riggs, then Greater Midwest Chapter president, started a monthly informal Zoom meeting with leaders from other organizations to support each other during the crisis. While serving as president, Witges — who was named Community Advocate of the Year at this year’s PCMA Visionary Awards — and others began to consider how to formalize the group, and she has since taken on an ad hoc project manager role.

MMEC is comprised of Association Forum, Catering Executives Club of America, Destination Reps, EDPA Midwest, IAEE Midwestern Chapter, ILEA Chicago Chapter, MPI Chicago Area Chapter, NACE Greater Chicago Chapter, SITE Chicago, and WIPA Chicago. Members of these groups who want to get involved with MMEC, Witges said, should speak with their chapter leaders.

Curt Wagner is digital editor at Convene.