Launched earlier this year, the Special Event Sites Marketing Alliance focuses on the marketing needs of non-hotel event venues, according to Ted Anderson, SESMA president-elect and director of special events for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, located in Washington.
Anderson said the alliance, with headquarters in McLean, Va., serves members by increasing their exposure through a comprehensive public relations effort, including a print directory, Web site listings and trade show representation. The organization now has about 85 members, most based in the Baltimore-Washington area. Member categories include primary (caterers, event coordinators, floral designers and other vendors) and affiliate (in-house corporate meeting and event planners).
“We plan to go national,” Anderson said, “but we're going to try to get established here first and get things running.” So far, he added, SESMA has been “overwhelmed” by the interest in membership among local venues. He said he hopes gradual growth will help the organization find its footing among other industry associations such as ISES, NACE and MPI. “We don't want them to think that we're a competitor. We're not a competitor. We're the only organization that focuses on sites. We are interested in collaborating, maybe doing joint programs.”
For now, Anderson says, SESMA is concentrating on developing marketing efforts, including fam trips to multiple event sites for press and event planners. The organization is also offering a bimonthly professional development program. Recent programs include a panel discussion on venue-caterer relationships, which featured site managers, a leading catering operation owner and NACE national president Jerry Edwards, CPCE. “We're trying to do a wide variety of programs that keep everybody interested,” Anderson said.
Special Event Sites Marketing Alliance 8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 300, McLean, VA; 703/610-9024; www.sesma.org
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