Meeting professionals can find reasons to celebrate the power of face-to-face at every corner of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center during PCMA Convening Leaders 2019, but outside the venue, the industry is staring down a number of uncertainties. Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, shared the issues at the top of his mind — such as signs of an economic slowdown, a continuing government shutdown, and labor protests — in a Jan. 7 press conference. While those are big concerns, Dow said that the Meetings Mean Business (MMB) coalition is continuing to refine its advocacy strategy and help the meetings industry flex its muscles.
“We want to connect with decision-makers outside our industry,” Dow said. “What we really want to focus on in 2019 is to scale and grow our programming.”
Part of that focus will include identifying key influencers in the health-care, financial services, and technology verticals who can help spread the word about what makes meetings meaningful. The coalition is currently conducting research to identify who it believes are “third-party validators” who can help socialize the proof points about the meetings industry’s economic value.
“We want to challenge destinations to think outside the box about how they can communicate the value of our industry,” Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and co-chair of MMB, said. “It’s not just talking to ourselves, but finding a way to connect with government and business leaders.”
Unveiling International Plans and Writing a New Playbook
In addition to reaching outside the industry, the coalition has plans to reach outside the United States. In 2019, MMB will welcome its first international chapter in Canada, and the coalition is finalizing an agreement for a chapter in India, too. While global growth is an exciting prospect, the coalition’s primary focus will remain on fueling the success of events in the United States. As some convention destinations and event organizers continue to struggle with the fallout from controversial legislation, the coalition has been working with Destinations International to unveil a new suite of resources to navigate the challenges of travel boycotts.
“We’ll be unveiling a checklist of steps that event planners should take before a travel ban, key considerations for crisis responses, sample communications for attendees, and messaging that planners can use after a travel ban,” said Trina Camacho-London, vice president of global group sales at Hyatt Hotels and co-chair of the coalition.
MMB’s efforts represent a 365-day strategy for articulating the $845-billion impact of the meetings and events industry, but there is one especially important day that all event organizers should mark on their calendars: Global Meetings Industry Day, set for April 4. Last year’s celebration included a record-breaking 200-plus events in 41 countries. For information on hosting an event, visit meetingsmeanbusiness.com/gmid.