COVID-19, as I write this column, is continuing its march across the globe, causing human suffering, tragic deaths, and widespread disruption. This is an unprecedented challenge — and a time for our industry to step up and be part of the solution. To do that we must be safe, thinking first of the well-being of our participants, host communities, and employees. We must be smart as we make decisions about our events and as we manage our own health so that we don’t place unnecessary burdens on the frontline health-care workers battling this outbreak. And we must be ready, because this too shall pass, and once it does, we need to return to doing what we do best: bringing people together to solve the world’s problems.
Amid the staggering issues brought on by COVID-19, our industry has shown resilience, creativity, and fortitude. Governmental efforts to contain the virus have led to extraordinary limits on travel and gatherings, forcing us to make heartbreaking decisions. In the early stages of the outbreak, some events went ahead with heightened safety measures. Now, amid this new reality, most have been canceled or postponed or moved online.
As we seek a way forward, industry professionals have been propping each other up and sharing information and strategies via phone calls and email, on social media and in forums, and through webinars. PCMA has initiated several measures. Those include:
- An extension of membership terms for independent event professionals, who have been hit particularly hard economically, through Aug. 31, 2020. Also, PCMA has a hardship dues rate of $50 for all members who lose their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. You can email [email protected].
- A series of webinars featuring experts, including one in partnership with CEMA and the American Society for Microbiology, in which the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Robin Patel answered viewers’ questions.
- Our COVID-19 resource page, which provides the latest facts, case studies, and insights on how organizers are coping and coming up with creative solutions.
We are currently working with the U.S. Travel Association and other organizations to first ensure our health-care workers are safe and healthy. Next we aim to support governmental efforts on behalf of those who have been so profoundly affected by this pandemic. Once we get the all-clear signal from global health leaders, PCMA will lead the industry as we all work to provide the right solutions to expedite recovery.
We will meet in person again. But for now, our focus must be on ensuring everyone’s health and well-being — and on our ability to take care of our loved ones. We need to be safe, smart, and ready as we work on getting through this, together.
How the Industry Is Coping
We can all agree that the COVID-19 crisis has been a rapidly evolving situation. Decisions about events that made sense one day no longer were prudent — or even possible — the following day. Convene’s editors have been covering this coronavirus before it had an official name, told from the perspective of the planners on the front lines.