Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2023

Meetings Professionals Promote In-Person Events In D.C. and Around the Globe

Meeting professionals know how powerful business events are for individuals, organizations and communities at large. Over the past few weeks, they went to the nation’s capitol to promote the benefits of in-person events to government officials and others outside of the industry during the inaugural Business Events Industry Week and the Global Meetings Industry Day.

First up was the inaugural Business Events Industry Week, held March 23-25 at Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in National Harbor, Md. More than 2,000 meeting and hospitality event professionals gathered over the three-day combined event to learn, network and demonstrate how the event’s theme, the “Power of Purpose” (PoP), plays out in real life. The event, organized by PCMA and Destinations International, was designed specifically to show the world that when people gather with purpose, the results can enrich the economic, social and intellectual life of both individuals and communities.

With two years of the COVID-19 pandemic having caused all manner of disruptions to in-person events on both the supplier and planner side, Sherrif Karamat, PCMA President and CEO, said, “It’s time to restore what has been lost these last two years and build a pathway forward.” Though the timing couldn’t seem better planned, coming during a lull the industry hope spells the beginning of the end of the pandemic, PCMA and Destinations International actually began planning this event in 2019.

The goal, said Karamat, was to bring business events strategists and destination representatives together to showcase how “The power of purpose begins with all of us.”

The three-day event featured a coordinated series of meetings and events organized by PCMA, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), the Events Industry Council and Destinations International. First up was Destination International’s Convention Sales & Services Summit, which drew 170 participants to engage in panel and small-group discussions on how to make events more inclusive. The Events Industry Council’s (EIC) also held its hybrid Equity Task Force workshop as part of the festivities. The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) had its Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) on the week’s slate of events, which was capped with the PCMA Foundation’s 2022 Visionary Awards.

IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA, said that the WLF brought 184 female industry professionals to the Gaylord. “The Business Events Industry Week was a true testament to the power of collaboration,” he said. “I applaud those who worked tirelessly to bring this event together.”

The Destination Showcase, co-produced by PCMA and Destination International, drew 540 planner and supplier participants to learn, network and be inspired by a keynote by The Purpose Institute’s Co-founder and CEO Roy Spence.

Among those honored at the PCMA Foundation’s Visionary Awards was Chris Wehking, who was the 2014 PCMA Board of Director Chairman and the 2019 PCMA Foundation Lifetime Achievement honoree. The Foundation has established an education scholarship fund in Wehking’s name.

The three-day event also highlighted the importance of events to promote and support diversity. PCMA honored Melissa Cherry, Chief Diversity Office and Senior Vice President, Miles Partnership, with the PCMA Foundation’s Groundbreaker award for her work to advance her organization’s work to advance inclusion and equity. The LGBT MPA (Meeting Professionals Association) also was invited to participate at the 2022 Destination Showcase, said Gary Murakami, CMP, CMM, DES, Vice President of Sales and Industry Relations for Teneo Hospitality Group. Murakami, who also is the vice chair of the LGBT MPA Board of Directors, emphasized that “business events are an important catalyst and conduit for social change.”

GMID, 2022-Style

Just a few weeks later, on April 7, the industry gathered again to celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) by gathering in Washington, D.C., to promote the business and economic power of in-person events, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences and conventions as part of this international day of advocacy. Meeting Professionals International also held a 12-hour digital broadcast featuring educational sessions and panel discussions to showcase the economic and social power of in-person gatherings. Various chapters of MPI, PCMA and ILEA, as well as destination marketing organizations around the world, held meetings, seminars, symposia, and receptions to promote the economic and social engine that the events industry represents.

This year’s theme, “Meet Safe,” was demonstrated by showing not just how it is possible to hold a meeting or event safely during the waning days of the pandemic, but also how safe events are — and have been — happening throughout COVID-19. CLEAR, which provides the CLEAR Health Pass, partnered with the industry for GMID 2022 to help accelerate the return of large meetings and events by providing exclusive pricing for members of certain industry associations and organizations.

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