‘A Larger Voice’: How the Pandemic Is Changing Global Meetings Industry Day

Events held in conjunction with GMID on April 7 — now under the U.S. Travel Association banner — offer more choices and greater reach with digital, in-person, and hybrid formats.

Author: Convene Editors       

Global Meetings Industry Day graphic

The U.S. Travel Association provides graphics like the one above to promote Global Meetings Industry Day, April 7.

Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), Thursday, April 7, was launched five years ago by the 70-member Meetings Mean Business industry coalition as an annual day of industry-wide advocacy focused on raising the profile of the economic value of business events, trade shows and exhibitions, and incentive travel. And like almost everything else, GMID has evolved in response to the pandemic.

This year, for example, marks the first time GMID is happening under the banner of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), which merged with the Meetings Mean Business coalition in 2021, reflecting USTA’s heightened focus on reviving business travel. Although leisure travel is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, business travel is lagging, complicating the economic outlook for travel. Business travelers made up just 20 percent of the pre-pandemic total trip volume yet accounted for a disproportionate 40 to 60 percent of lodging and air revenue, USTA wrote in a press release announcing the integration of Meetings Mean Business into the travel association last November. “The return of professional meetings and events is crucial,” USTA added, “to the recovery of the travel economy and is a top priority of the association.”

Under the umbrella of the tagline “Meet Safe,” the association has created social media and other tools for meetings professionals for GMID 2022, including research about the demand for in-person events and their economic benefits. USTA also has compiled a database of case studies describing meetings of all sizes that were safely and successfully conducted in a variety of formats — in-person, all-digital, and hybrid — since May 2020. (Instructions for how organizations can add their events to the database are available on the Meet Safe website.)

This year’s lineup of GMID events reflects not only the surge in 2022 in the number of events that have returned to an in-person format, but a range of meeting-design decisions. While some events organized by PCMA chapters are designed for in-person attendees only, including breakfasts and lunches planned in Vancouver, San Francisco (on April 6), New York, Ottawa, and Columbus, others, including events in St. Louis and Washington, D.C., offer both in-person and digital options. For the second year in a row, Hospitality Today Live, a weekly video show hosted by industry veteran Deborah Gardner, CMP, will present an all-day, live video broadcast featuring interviews with a dozen leaders from the hotel, association, academic, and corporate event worlds.

And the PCMA Capital Chapter has redesigned its GMID game plan — originally called Hill Day and focusing on in-person visits to policymakers on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. — to create an event that leverages the benefits of both in-person and digital formats. On April 7, the chapter will host a three-hour education and networking session at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., featuring a deep dive into advocacy how-to’s.

The hybrid event is the culmination of a three-week-long campaign initiated by the Capital Chapter that put members of several PCMA chapters around the country in digital contact with their representatives in Washington, D.C. Prior to virtual appointments they set up with senators, representatives, and their staff members March 21–April 8, PCMA members participated in training sessions on how to create a compelling case on issues important to the meetings industry by Virginia-based marketing and engagement agency MCI USA.

The idea to open the Capital Chapter’s Hill Day to PCMA members from other chapters came in 2021 when the event went virtual. Organizers had planned to hold the meetings during the week of GMID but stretched the period for appointments to two weeks after facing scheduling conflicts with busy lawmakers. The chapter also added to the potential impact of the outreach program by including members of PCMA chapters from all over the country. “We found that it’s definitely easier to get an appointment with one of the lawmakers if you’re an actual constituent,” Capital Chapter President Marcus Eng told Convene. The changes helped to increase the program’s reach, he said, and to “be inclusive with the other chapters to have a larger voice in representing the industry.”

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