Recently, thousands of meetings industry professionals around the world joined together to celebrate the second annual Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID). Sponsored by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, this day of advocacy was designed to showcase the real impact that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions have on people, business and communities. To celebrate GMID, a wide range of events were held across the globe.
In celebration of GMID, here in the OLC’s hometown neighborhood, the Chicago Industry Xchange was held in special collaboration with Choose Chicago’s Annual Meeting.
With well over a thousand attendees, plus a fabulous group of sponsors and industry partners, it was an amazing turnout supporting the meetings industry.
As part of the event, I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to discuss trends with a distinguished panel of industry experts, who included:
- David Whitaker, President & CEO of Choose Chicago,
- David Kennedy, Assistant General Manager of Entertainment, McCormick Place,
- Jim Goodman, Vice President of Conferences and Continuing Education, American Dental Association, and
- Dave Peckinpaugh, President, Maritz Global Events.
Following the event, I sat down with Katie Callahan-Giobbi, Executive Vice President for Minding Your Business, who served as event emcee, to talk about key takeaways from the day.
The State of Safety and Security in Meetings
During our panel discussion, one of the first topics covered was the state of safety and security in the meetings industry.
Unfortunately, with the world we live in today, more than ever this is top-of-mind. So much so that when Callahan-Giobbi polled the audience, it was no surprise that 50 percent responded they have an emergency plan in place for their events.
All of the panelists agreed that the meetings industry has a unique responsibility to secure the safety of those attending our events – whether that’s from the perspective of the destination, venue or individual organizers.
While the progress that’s been made is good news, Callahan-Giobbi added, “This is still a critical topic that we all have to lean into more than ever before to keep momentum going.”
The Importance of Event Design
Following the discussion on security and emergency plans, Callahan-Giobbi polled the audience again to understand what they wanted to hear most from the panel. Effective event design came in number one – rising above other topical subjects like federal and state legislations, ROI and increasing event attendance.
When it comes to giving our meetings a unique “wow” factor or finding new ways to push the envelope, technology is often a primary element. But each of the panelists spoke about using technology to enhance the overall experience – and not detract or take away from the very important face-to-face time that only meetings can provide.
Callahan-Giobbi reiterated another important theme from the discussion: Keep the human touch in hospitality. “As high-tech as we are, let’s be mindful we’re still in the hospitality business. We can’t allow or encourage technology to take over every aspect of what we do.”
Pass the Passion On
As the event drew to a close, Goodman reminded us that as meeting professionals, we need to “sing the song” of the importance of the meetings industry. And coming full circle to the main purpose of GMID, we should be doing this all the time – not just when we’re trying to get support for a new initiative or questions are being asked about ROI.
And that’s where the panelists echoed that the passion and commitment that we have for the meetings industry gets passed on, especially to future generations just entering the industry. When we all sing the same song about the value of the meetings and event industry, we continue increasing awareness about how critical all the aspects of the meetings industry is to our overall economy.
Callahan-Giobbi offered one final piece of advice: “Get involved with industry organizations. It’s the best way to pass the passion on and help others understand the value of the industry.”