From programs in Atlanta and New York on combating human trafficking, to a discussion in South Africa on the events industry’s impact, to a visit to Capitol Hill to share the industry’s economic value with members of Congress, meetings and hospitality professionals will gather April 4 at hundreds of events on six continents under the banner of Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID).
“GMID is a way to come together and celebrate why our industry matters,” said Jessica L. Smith, CMP, MTA, senior manager of global events at MCI USA and the GMID event champion for PCMA’s Capital Chapter.
“It’s crucial that we know our industry and why it is so important so that we can share that with those outside of the industry. We’re not ‘just party planners.’ We’re curators of adult learning, economic drivers, and social changers,” Smith said.
GMID, led by the Meetings Mean Business coalition, unites meetings and hospitality professionals for a day of education and advocacy and, according to Meetings Mean Business’ website, to “celebrate the industry’s enduring business value and its $2.65 trillion in global economic impact.” Events are to be held in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America.
News about planned events is being shared on social media with the hashtag #GMID. And while socializing will be part of the mix April 4, the emphasis is on social impact, reflected in such programs as the Atlanta-area GMID industry panel on “Putting the Stop on Human Trafficking.”
“Unfortunately, human trafficking [HT] is very present in the United States and, therefore, a topic of conversation in the hospitality community with many organizations taking a stand against HT and/or proactively taking steps to stop the trafficking or, at least helping the efforts of those who are working diligently to help the men, women, and children being trafficked,” said Chris Colbert, director of trade show sales for Cobb Travel and Tourism and president-elect of PCMA’s Southeast Chapter.
“Everyone attending will definitely learn the unpleasant truth of HT and what they can do to help,” Colbert said. The event is co-sponsored by the PCMA Southeast Chapter, the Southeastern Chapter of IAEE, the Georgia Society of Association Executives, MPI’s Georgia Chapter, and SITE Southeast.
“We will probably never know the full impact of this program and that’s okay,” he said. “Someone, somewhere at some point will benefit.”
In addition to the industry panel, the day’s events include creation of outreach kits for Covenant House Georgia, which provides shelter and support for homeless trafficked youths.
“Covenant House is just one of many organizations that are making great strides transitioning men, women, and children out of human trafficking and back into society. [It] uses outreach kits during its grassroots, on-the-streets efforts to connect with those who are being trafficked,” Colbert said.
PCMA’s New York Area Chapter will also focus on how the events industry can combat human trafficking. The chapter’s event will feature a presentation by speakers including Carol Smolenski, executive director of the anti-trafficking policy organization ECPAT-USA, and David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Global Events. Under Peckinpaugh’s leadership, Maritz has taken an activist role in training employees in how to recognize and report suspicious activity related to sex trafficking.
PCMA’s Capital Chapter, which is teaming with the MPI Potomac Chapter to sponsor GMID activities, is also aiming to make a difference during its full-day event in Washington, D.C.
“In the morning, we’ll focus on how to advocate on the Hill, then divide into groups to go to Hill appointments [to advocate for the events industry],” Smith said. “In the afternoon, we’ll focus on the importance of the business events industry and its economic impact, do a mini training on how to advocate on the Hill as well as in local government [for those unable to participate that morning], and finally we’ll have a panel on how to incorporate corporate social responsibility [CSR] into the culture of your organization.
“We want to showcase not only how meetings and events bring economic value to a city, but also a social value as well.”
“Too often,” Smith added, “we get into the weeds of the logistics of our jobs and it’s great to step back and see how we all affect not only our country but the world.”
And the goal is to make that impact resonate beyond April 4.
“Since GMID is acknowledged on one day of the year, what is done on that day is significant,” Colbert said. “We want to engage [industry] professionals on a meaningful and purposeful level, so that what we do on that day will have an ongoing impact.
“Hopefully,” he said, “the ripple effect of the day will continue to be a blessing.”
Cristi Kempf is Convene executive editor.
PCMA’s GMID Events
- Find out what all our chapters are doing on April 4 for Global Meetings Industry Day.