NEWS, ANALYSIS & OPINION
NACE, the National Association of Catering Executives, today, formally approved an organization name-change, renaming it as the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE).
This is not a groundbreaking change, rather an affirmation of the organization’s membership make-up evolution over the last two decades. NACE was originally founded as the Banquet Manager’s Guild in the late 1950’s. Then, a male-dominated association, it slowly became female-dominated organization, over time, and transitioned to a catering-centered membership.
The membership has expanded (in job descriptions) from Banquet Managers to include Catering Managers and Director of Catering, Off-Premise Caterers, Private Event Managers, Event Managers, and Wedding Planners/Consultants.
For many years within NACE, these job titles were called Primary Members. Vendors and Suppliers were referred to as Affiliate Members. Until several years ago, only Primary Members were able to hold the highest elected offices in the organization, locally and nationally.
There has been a gradual move to equalizing membership participation, with no more distinction between the two major categories of members.
The affirmation of the NACE Name Change by voting delegates of local chapters (representing all individual members) addresses several important issues.
- The new organization name more succinctly describes the all-encompassing nature and composition of the organization membership and the markets it serves, today.
- While the name has changed, the acronym N-A-C-E did not. Therefore, this adjustment has been accomplished with subtlety that brings the organization current, without having “NACE” disappear in internet searches or in the minds of hospitality professionals.
- Rebranding can be achieved without a visual ‘reinvention of the wheel’. NACE has made a couple of logo changes in the last few years for itself, and other affiliated organizations and brands, such as: The Foundation of NACE, The Certified Professional Catering Executive designation, among others. All the various affiliated brands have the same look and feel as NACE. Not having to make across-the-board changes is a huge plus. My speculation is that NACE will retain the look and feel of its current visual logos.
The Culture of NACE
National organizations have two cultures (or many, depending on how you look at it): A national culture (national leadership and conferences) and the individual culture of each chapter market area.
Some NACE markets are hotel-driven, others are off-premise driven, yet others a hybrid. For example, from a food and beverage perspective, certain chapter meetings always serve seated dinners; others are more casual with cocktails and supper-by-the-bite.
By the nature of its catering base, education at local NACE meetings tended to address the interest of caterers, first. The feeling being that vendors and suppliers would always attend to network with catering professionals.
In many markets, competition from other hospitality and wedding associations and organizations has allowed vendors and suppliers to make alternative choices for their time and involvement. National/International associations, such as NACE and ISES, charge annual dues, running to several hundred dollars. Most locally run groups do not charge that level of dues, because they do not have professional headquarters staff to serve both members and leaders.
Membership in national organizations, such as NACE, turnover at rate of 35% annual (plus or minus). On the surface, that would suggest that an entire organization turns over its membership in three years, on average. Leaders, however, are typically long-term members, often staying 5 to 10 years and longer.
As a result, the culture of leadership tends to be slow to evolution. The general membership is much more fluid.
What The NACE Name Change Means At The Chapter Level
In my view, it’s a huge public relations opportunity. Properly promoted, NACE can be showcased as an evolving, modern organization. The National Headquarters and National Board of Directors can lead the way forward, with a big push.
In the end, it will be the execution by local chapter leaders that will determine whether this step forward will result in added value and return-on-investment for NACE members, present and future. Should be interesting to watch.
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog