Making a Difference: How PCMA, Others Celebrated GMID 2019

Author: Curt Wagner       


Attendees at Philadelphia’s GMID event co-sponsored by local chapters of PCMA and MPI celebrate in the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

PCMA and its chapters joined meetings and events industry professionals from around the world April 4 to celebrate the fourth annual Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID).

Thousands of meeting professionals participated in more than 230 GMID events in 42 countries, the Meetings Mean Business (MMB) coalition said, making the 2019 observance the biggest GMID to date.

The MMB coalition created the day to showcase the impact that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows, and exhibitions have on people, business, and communities.

GMID activities Thursday ran the gamut. Officials turned the lights in iconic buildings — New York’s Empire State Building and Toronto’s CN Tower, for example — light blue, the globally recognized color for the day. In many cities, industry professionals celebrated with educational events, brunches, networking, and panels focusing on the industry’s social and economic impact.

Economic Impact

According to MMB, the meetings industry’s global economic impact is $2.65 trillion.

In Seattle, the industry pumped $708 million into the city and regional economy in 2018, Visit Seattle reported. Andrea Lambrecht, president of PCMA Pacific Northwest chapter, met with other industry leaders at the building site of the new addition to the Washington Convention Center to observe the record-breaking year and GMID.

Mayor Jenny Durkan officially proclaimed April 4 as Seattle Meetings Industry Day, recognizing the industry’s economic importance to the area.

The mayor’s proclamation “doubles down on Seattle’s commitment in making the improvements necessary to welcome groups to Seattle,” Lambrecht told Convene. “By planning this addition to our convention center and proclaiming the day for meetings, it shows that our city as a whole, and not just the industry leaders, are driving the change for ‘meetings mean business.’”


Andrea Lambrecht, PCMA Pacific Northwest Chapter president (front left) and other Seattle meetings industry professionals pose at the construction site for the new Summit building of the Washington Convention Center. (Alabastro Photography)

Education For the Future

PCMA’s Southwest & Pacific (SW&P) chapter spent part of the day focusing on education. As part of its celebration, the chapter gave planners and suppliers at its event a sneak peek of the new Master’s program in meetings and events at San Diego State University. Tracy Judge, a former board member of the PCMA SW&P chapter, helped facilitate the creation of the program.


Part of the GMID event in Pasadena took place at Rose Bowl stadium.

Being able to preview the program is just another way GMID is important to the industry, chapter director Cory Rosenberg told Convene.

“The significance of GMID has grown vastly over the last few years,” he said. “Meetings Means Business and PCMA have done a great job in facilitating the day and our regional chapters have had great success in spreading the word on ‘why meetings matter.’”

The chapter teamed with three other southern California industry associations — MPISCC, SITE SoCal, and ILEA-LA — for the event, which took place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. A total of 408 people registered for the event, which also included networking, photo activations, games, exhibitors, and music provided by the Replicas on the field of the Rose Bowl stadium.

Social Responsibility

PCMA’s Greater Philadelphia chapter took a look at social causes as part of its GMID program. Chapter president Pat Kraft Hilpl told Convene the day’s events “truly underscored the power of coming together.”


Participants at the Philadelphia GMID program filled 75 bags with food and clothing donations for Covenant House Philadelphia.

The chapter collaborated with MPI Philadelphia, doing two panel sessions, a community service activity, and a reception. The event topped past years in attendance, with 160 people joining at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, raising more than $2,000 for Covenant House Philadelphia, which provides shelter and support for homeless trafficked youths. Participants also filled 75 bags with needed food and clothing donations, Hilpl said.

The event’s first session, titled “Homelessness and How It Affects the Hospitality Industry,” was inspired by the October 2018 Convene cover story about homelessness. Windy Christner, senior director of meetings and exhibitions at the American Pharmacists Association and a source for that story, was one of four panelists discussing the issue. Five panelists had a conversation about “Human Trafficking in the Hospitality Industry” for the second session.

“Attendees were astonished to learn about how prevalent human trafficking is and how connected to homelessness it is,” Hilpl told Convene. “Many of our chapter members believe in the importance of leaving an enduring footprint, both professionally and personally, so this topic was a good fit.

“It was definitely impactful – which was an important objective for the day.”


Other GMID Events

Here’s a look at what other PCMA chapters did to observe Global Meetings Industry Day:

New York

The New York Area chapter welcomed 135 people to its panel discussion at Convene on how the events industry can combat human trafficking. Carol Smolenski, executive director of the anti-trafficking policy organization ECPAT-USA, and David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Global Events, spoke, along with Jessica Schultz, Hyatt, and Robin Carter, from Atlas Travel. Human trafficking survivor and mentor, Shanifa Bennett joined the panel. Afterward, attendees packed about 270 support bags for trafficking survivors and donated the rest of the supplies.

“It was great to see so many people and organizations taking interest in this topic,” chapter president Diane Brady told Convene. “Since it is so prevalent in our industry and travel professionals are so uniquely situated to identify suspicious activity, I feel it’s our duty to help eliminate such a despicable crime. The thought of it is sickening.”


Robin Carter of Atlas Travel (from left), Jessica Schultz of Hyatt, David Peckinpaugh of Maritz Global Events, Carol Smolenski of ECPAT-USA, and human trafficking survivor/mentor Shanifa Bennett discuss the issue during a New York GMID event. (#SimonProPhoto)


Atlanta’s GMID event at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel and Cobb Galleria Convention Centre brought together more than 130 people who focused on the value of meetings, including an educational component that provided insight into the issue of human trafficking. The event ended with a community service project where participants assembled street outreach kits for Covenant House Atlanta. PCMA Southeast partnered with IAEE SE, GSAE, SITE Southeast, and MPI Georgia.


Participants at Atlanta’s GMID event assemble street outreach kits for Covenant House Atlanta.

Washington, D.C.

PCMA’s Capital chapter, teaming with the MPI Potomac chapter, had 77 registrants for advocacy training; 46 participants who attended 18 advocacy appointments with officials on Capitol Hill; and 166 registered participants for the education session on how to introduce corporate social responsibility (CSR) into the culture of an organization.


Members of PCMA’s Capital chapter meet with a government official on Capitol Hill to advocate for the events industry.

San Francisco

PCMA Northern California and 10 other events industry groups hosted 350 attendees for a reception and fundraiser at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco. The event, catered by food truck companies, raised roughly $10,000 that will be divided between two beneficiaries: ECPAT-USA and St. Anthony’s Foundation, a homeless support organization.


A performer spins plates at a carnival-themed GMID fundraiser at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco. (Courtesy Orange Photography)


PCMA’s Rocky Mountain chapter teamed with 11 other organizations to celebrate GMID in downtown Denver with a panel of CVB executives discussing the industry’s economic impact. After the panel, some attendees walked to the Colorado State Capitol Building for a photo.


Members of the business events community celebrate GMID with a walk to the capital building in Denver, Colorado.


PCMA APAC conducted a Knowledge Exchange about The Future of Meetings and Events in Suwon, Korea.


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