Is MSPA worth attending?

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I have been to all three of the MS conferences.

The MSPA conference is by FAR the best of the MS conferences. It was exceedly well run and the speakers are excellent, both in deliver of the talk as well as the content of the talk. It was very helpful and I got a lot of information out of it, as well as getting good contacts for future work.

VideoCon was just terrible. It was disorganized and the the speakers were not very good. The content was also lacking For instance, one of the topics was getting the best shots and angles - which is an important topic for video jobs. The allotted time was suppose to be 45 minutes. The actual talk was just 3 minutes! I was flabbergasted. VideoCon is a complete waste of time and money in my opinion.

The IMSC conference is a little better, but not by much. It wasn't well run and the speakers were not very good. I won't return.
There are a variety of reasons to go to the conferences. While I think many of them are social, some people benefit from the training, it seems.

@Niner; for the type of assignments that seem to interest you, it might not be the best use of your resources. I can possibly think of one good hospitality company that sometimes attends and you may be able to broker a better relationship with them, but for the most part, the companies with the really desirable assignments don't attend the conferences in my experience. You get a lot of the major companies that offer low pay and just want to sign new shoppers up, and explain the industry to them. I sat through a presentation at the MSPA conference I attended were the MSC owners were justifying their moves to reimbursement only assignments, rather than it being a situation where parties get together to better the industry.

Doing good work for the companies you like will be a much better use of your time once you are established, IMHO.
I have attended the mini IMSC conference and Videocon19.

Both have their idiosyncrasies, but if you ask me which conference to attend I will say out loud it would be Videocon, if you want to video shop. And if you want to learn how to video shop, take the basic course, Videocon offers.

I attended Videocon19 this last weekend. It was conducted professionally. Hiccups happened, but they managed to work around them.

I took the class and I have companies emailing me to work for them without any experience.


YMMV. Gomo

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning; the devil shudders...And yells OH #%*+! SHE'S AWAKE!
MSPA would be worth it, depending on who is attending. You are not the kind of shopper who would benefit from the other two conferences.
IMSC conferences are where most of the Video MSCs and video shoppers will be found. For that reason, it is also heavy on sessions on how to assemble and manage profitable routes of from 1 to 30 days or more, and how to be successful with high fee new homes, assisted living and similar shops.

A major hospitality MSC is a major corporate member and always has a lot of managers and schedulers in attendance. There is usually also a session or two by a tax pro who really "gets" MS.

there are also always separate sessions for newbies to get them a few steps up the ladder and ready to expand the number and variety of shops that they can accomplish in a day, how to work better instead of just harder, and how to develop good relationships with schedulers, managers and editors.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
I've yet to attend a conference. From folks who have attended them, I have heard all sorts of different reports regarding which one is the "best." It seems that there is not a lot of agreement. This suggests to me that the utility of each depends on the specific speakers and the needs/objectives of the shopper.

I do think that, for the majority of shoppers (very part time and just looking to pick up a few bucks on the side), the conferences are not worth the expense, especially if you need to fly in and stay in a hotel. I shop quite a bit more than that and do not think I can justify the expense - especially if they involve taking days off my primary job (which most do!)

However, if I were looking to shop full time or to expand into other aspects of the industry, I would likely consider attending one. The biggest benefit I would anticipate is making contacts with MSC representatives.

MSPA: My sense is that this is largely oriented towards beginning shoppers and, unless I was looking to work for a company, I would not be interested.

IMSC: This one intrigues me more and I get the sense that there is quite a bit of variability in what it covers, depending on the specific speakers. Because they are not actually sponsored by MSC's, it has the freedom to focus on issues that will help shoppers to maximize their incomes through such topics as route-planning and negotiating bonuses. I was offered a chance to speak at this year's conference, but turned it down without much thought as I'd have to take time off from teaching to attend.

VIdeoCon: There are some video opportunities/MSC's that I have not yet found. For that alone, this would be worthwhile. I have not heard enough about the speakers to know whether or not I would be further interested.

NOTE: For those who have attended, feel free to correct my misperceptions.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
Thanks for the opinions. We would actually be able to go to MSPA based on our work schedules, but it would be an expense. We would not need to fly there, but we would need to get a hotel and pay for the cost to attend. Right now, I shop mostly fine dining, luxury auto, and luxury retail, since those make the most sense. The conference would not be for anything other than a possible learning experience.
I think you are right niner, see what the programs are and is it going to be a learning experience. If I am not going to learn something, I see no sense in it.
I am certain that I would learn at least a few things from any of the conferences. This is because there is always something else to learn.

The one thing that the conferences cannot do for me is control the timing of my daily, early morning job. This can vary wildly! I can only take on so much extra work (MS, merch, etc.) based upon my unknown start time. Another shopper with a known free schedule probably could complete 10 - 20 times more assignments than I can. This type of shopper probably has attended, or should teach at, conferences.

Praying is work. - Mother Angelica
I’ve wondered what the conferences are like as well. I would like to attend each once at some point..
Niner, I would research what the particular conference is offering.

Videocon19 was held about an hour from my home so it was a no-brainer. I signed up for the basic video training class almost at the last minute. It was the best $99 I've spent in a long time. The class was well organized and properly conducted.

As far as the commentary about the speakers, YMMV in what you want from a public speaker. I learned quite a bit from the MSP's that came to VideoCon19 and from the mini IMSC conference in Atlanta last year. Are they all practiced public speakers?, no. But even the speakers that were visually and physically intimidated speaking to a crowd did their best. As someone who had to do sales presentations to a crowd for a living, I'm here to tell you that it isn't easy even when you're prepared and do it at least once a week.

I have yet to attend the MSPA conference. There are a couple of us that are considering this year's conference.

Research what you want to get out of the conference and then choose.

I have taken the conference fees off of my taxes, if that helps.

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning; the devil shudders...And yells OH #%*+! SHE'S AWAKE!
I was looking at going to the MSPA one but then I checked the prices. It looks like only one day which is Saturday is included of actual learning and then you pay fees for the other classes, is that right? I think I must be reading something wrong or something
Fee: - $175.00

Sessions & Workshops
Certification - Friday, June 28, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Professional Report Writing - Fri $35.00
Property Management I $35.00
Retail I - Fri $35.00

Saturday Optional Event - June 29, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
OPTIONAL EVENT - Gateway Clipper Dinner Cruise $65.00

Certification - Sunday, June 30, 9:00 am - 10:25 am
Professional Report Writing - Sun $35.00
Retail I - Sun Sunday Certification Courses $35.00
Retail II - Sun#1 Sunday Certification Courses $35.00

Certification - Sunday, June 30, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Professional Responsibility & Ethics $35.00
Retail II - Sun#2 Sunday Certification Courses $35.00
Retail III Sunday Certification Courses $35.00


Saturday, June 29
7:00 am - 8:30 am Breakfast on Your Own
8:30 am - 9:00 am Your Association and You
Presented by MSPA President Charles Stiles (Business Evaluation Services)

MSPA Americas President Charles Stiles leads a rapid but comprehensive review of all the benefits and resources available to all MSPA evaluator members.

9:00 am - 9:40 am Service Provider Roundtable: Be This Shopper, Not That Shopper!
Presented by Jane Edwards-Hall (Ipsos), Jason Bare (BARE International), Angela Megasko (Market Viewpoint LLC) and Dan Bradley (CXOrlando)

Owners and senior executives from some of your favorite companies share their advice on how to best position yourself with schedulers in order to be their go-to shopper and get the most assignments---as well pitfalls to avoid.

Be this Video Shopper, Not that Video Shopper

(Presented by David Hartley, Elite CX Solutions)

9:45 am - 10:15 am Ask the Attorney: Shopper Issues, Questions and Answers
Presented by Patrick Hollrah (CertifiedSE)

MSPA Washington, DC lobbyist Patrick Hollrah outlines in easy-to-understand language changes and potential changes in the laws which could impact you as an independent contractor (including an overview of the recent changes in the tax laws) and takes your questions on related legal matters.

10:15 am - 10:30 am Networking Break

10:30 am - 11:10 am Hear about a Fellow Shopper's Experience

Presenter and session description to be named. Fulfilling Client Expectations

(Presented by David Hartley and Marguerite Turner, Elite CX Solutions)
11:15 am - 12:00 pm Service Provider Roundtable: Whaddya Wanna Know?

Presented by Juan Charana (Consumer@Site), Sam Hersey, (The Consumer Insight) Mike Mershimer, (HS Brands Global) Paul Ryan (Secret Shopper) and Charles Stiles (Business Evaluation Services)

Ever have a question about the mystery shopping industry and not know where to get the straight scoop? An annual ShopperFest tradition, this session is your opportunity to ask our panel of distinguished company owners and senior executives whatever is on your mind about the industry.
12:00 pm - 12:30 pm Networking Break

12:30 pm - 1:45 pm Lunch with Service Providers, Shoppers' Choice Awards & Door Prizes

1:45 pm - 2:20 pm These breakout sessions are designed for new or veteran shoppers. Choose what fits you best. These sessions are designed for video shoppers and attending the majority of them throughout the day will earn an advanced video designation.
The Organized, Successful Mystery Shopping Professional Starter Kit
Presenter to be named.

Geared toward new shoppers, this session will help you take charge of your mystery shopping career by making sure you have all your basic tools in place to enjoy maximum success as an evaluator.

Are You Taking Your Full Tax Deductions?

Presented by Patrick Hollrah (CertifiedSE)

Want more information or have more questions about how you can keep more of your hard-earned money regarding the new tax laws? Patrick Hollrah goes deeper into the tax deductions that you may qualify for in order to maximize your profits. Video Shopping New Homes and Property Management Companies

Presenters to be named.
2:25 pm - 3:00 pm The Believability Factor…Do You Have It?
Presented by Angela Megasko (Market Viewpoint LLC)

The Best Actor and Actress awards go to…..mystery shoppers! Quite often, your assignment requires you to have a backstory and play a part to pull off the shop. This session will give you tips and insights on how to best play the part.

Hitting Send: Now What Happens to My Report?
Presented by Amber Sisson (AboutFace) and Doug Rector (NWLP)

You put all this work into completing a great shop, you write up, and then you hit “send”. Now, what happens? Take a peek behind the curtain to follow your shop through cyberspace and understand the rest of the life-cycle for your mini-masterpiece.

Advanced Route Shopping for Video Shoppers

Presented by David Hartley (Elite CX Solutions)
3:05 pm - 3:40 pm They Wrote What?! Writing that Closes Doors on Shoppers
Presented by Randi Hardiman (360 Intel)

The majority of shoppers write informative reports that are of tremendous value to clients all over the country. And then there are a few that come through that slam the door on this shopper getting future assignments. Learn the warning signs that will create headaches for your editors and leave you off their call list.

Driving Revenue as a Route Shopper

Presented by David Hartley (Elite CX Solutions)

One of the best ways to grow your revenue as a mystery shopper is to string a bunch of shops together in a specific geographical area or road map. This session will help you understand, plan and execute a multi-shop route to maximize your earning potential. Video and Specialty Shops

Presenters to be named
3:50 pm - 4:20 pm Cruises, Casinos and Resorts: Landing the Big Gigs
Presented by Jason Bare (BARE International), Mike Mershimer (HS Brands Global) and Charles Stiles (Business Evaluation Services)

Everyone wants the big gigs – but they aren’t always available to everyone. These high-end assignments do exist, but they only go to the best shoppers. And they can be quite a bit of work. Learn more about these dream assignments and how to land them.

Overview of Various Cameras and How to Operate Them

Presented by David Hartley (Elite CX Solutions) and Others
4:20 pm - 4:30 pm Networking Break


4:30 pm - 4:55 pm
Service Provider Roundtable: 10 Takeaways and a To-Do List for Success

Presented by Jane Edwards-Hall (Ipsos), Sam Hersey (The Consumer Insight), Angela Megasko (Market Viewpoint LLC), Doug Rector (NWLP) and Charles Stiles (Business Evaluation Services)

This final session wraps up the education portion of the weekend with a panel of Service Provider owners and senior executives who will help you prioritize the most important lessons of the weekend and organize your to-do list for success to implement as soon as you get back home!

5:00 pm - 5:30 pm Networking Break & Free Time
That is too much for me. However, this might be just right for someone else.

I would be interested in transcripts, and I am willing to pay a fair price for them. Would it be helpful for anyone else who probably will not attend such events to receive transcripts of one or more sessions?

Praying is work. - Mother Angelica
$175 doesn't seem that expensive to me. For *most* people the fee would be a smaller portion of the overall expense than either accommodations or transportation.

It actually looks quite interesting to me and it's at the end of my long road trip. Where is it located?

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
@bgriffin wrote:

$175 doesn't seem that expensive to me. For *most* people the fee would be a smaller portion of the overall expense than either accommodations or transportation.

It actually looks quite interesting to me and it's at the end of my long road trip. Where is it located?

I was thinking Pittsburgh, PA...
Oh. My.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
The costs of the event itself are not too much. The additional, unique costs for me are too much. The info is wonderful, and the people are stellar. The schedule is filled, and I would like to incorporate that amount of useful information over time.

Praying is work. - Mother Angelica


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2019 09:37AM by Shop-et-al.
I only see 10 sessions for this price cause some of them are called break out sessions and listed at the same time-so getting transcripts would definitely be the way to go for me, I wasn't even adding in travel, hotel and missed work. I forgot about all of that. I'm not sure how much the hotel is, I didn't get that far.
I know that bg does not need it, but I notice that there will not be any session on negotiating for bonuses! Nor will shoppers be on many (any?) panels. Why am I not surprised?

And, there is a session designed to get shoppers to support MSPA's lobbying agenda. Do NOT drink the KoolAid being served at that session.

No disrespect to the individual MSCs or their presenter reps. MSPA is by and FOR the companies' legislative agenda, not the shoppers. (or the schedulers, or the editors)

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven wrote:

I know that bg does not need it, but I notice that there will not be any session on negotiating for bonuses! Nor will shoppers be on many (any?) panels. Why am I not surprised?

And, there is a session designed to get shoppers to support MSPA's lobbying agenda. Do NOT drink the KoolAid being served at that session.

No disrespect to the individual MSCs or their presenter reps. MSPA is by and FOR the companies' legislative agenda, not the shoppers. (or the schedulers, or the editors)

More information, please. What, exactly, is the MSPA's lobbying agenda that you say is 'the KoolAid'? [They will not put this in the transcripts.]

tia.

Praying is work. - Mother Angelica


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2019 07:38PM by Shop-et-al.
They are very afraid of being caught treating their "IC" editors and schedulers as employees and being forced compensate them as employees, pay employer share of SS taxes, etc. So, they want all of the shoppers to lobby our reps in congress not to enforce Federal labor laws. They do this by using scare tactics, warning shoppers that if WE are judged to be employees instead of ICs, there will be far fewer shoppers. THAT is the KoolAid. They have been peddling it for years. Member MSCs send emails to their shoppers encouraging us to write to congress to "protect" ourselves when it is really the schedulers and editors that are "in danger" of being recognized under current law as employees. Some MSCs refuse to join, partly because they do not want their dues spent on some of that lobbying agenda. (ME: PhD in Labor Economics and Employment Policy AND I keep up with the law and practices.)

MSPA is, first and foremost, the lobbying arm of part of the MS industry. THAT is why it was formed and that remains its main mission.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Thank you. As far as I know, I have not received any lobbying messages.

Praying is work. - Mother Angelica
Some MSPA members neglect to send them out. I am signed up with about 180 MSCs so I get a bucketful every year. Membership dues (including shopper member dues) support a lot of trips to Washington each year to visit lawmakers offices. Melinda Brody made no secret that she finally actually quit because she objected to what she observed while on one such trip, in terms of spending.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
I just started to search. My first find was a website for 'MSPA Americas- Mission & Vision'. If interested, follow links to the bylaws, code of ethics, Hall of Fame, MSPA global, and other information.

Praying is work. - Mother Angelica


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2019 10:54PM by Shop-et-al.
How many shoppers are usually at a Shopperfest event? I'm just curious. Is it 50,100, 500, 1000....
@yoya301 wrote:

How many shoppers are usually at a Shopperfest event? I'm just curious. Is it 50,100, 500, 1000....

I think there just over 50 at the last one I attended...but that was near L.A. so it's a populous area.

@walesmaven wrote:

Membership dues (including shopper member dues) support a lot of trips to Washington each year to visit lawmakers offices.

At one point they were employing a professional lobbyist I believe...correct? I guess I should say contracting a lobbyist, but you do the math on the costs behind a small group of business owners doing that when it's like 50 small businesses and 50,000 shoppers, and you have to wonder why they spend futile money on that instead of just paying shoppers a little better. Pretty sure the lobbyist doesn't take $10 and a pizza for the work.
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