Event Industry Unification and Advocacy
We live in a competitive world. Everything is a competition; just look at the world of competitive eating, cooking, dancing, etc. I think it’s fair to say we’ve all glanced at the Guinness Book of World Records for the most outrageous titles: the largest collection of toothpaste tubes or the wealthiest cat? (2,037 tubes and Blackie the cat inherited $12.5 million, respectively). It’s ingrained in human nature to have a sense of ambition. And thankfully, it’s that same goal that propels us forward and drives us to achieve was we once thought was impossible.
Sometimes, however, we must put aside our competitive nature and come together for the greater good. I am, of course, talking about the events and meeting industry. In the past, it seems the disconnect and sheer sense of rivalries ruled the industry but those tables are turning. Events and meetings are being utilized as a vital marketing tool, and it’s been influenced by innovation that enables us to more accurately calculate the ROI of an event. As the drive for more face-to-face experiences increases, more industry professionals are working together to highlight the successes and achievements within our profession. There has been a major push from event professionals around the globe to share the economic impact that the industry has and the ability that meetings and events have to increase business development in cities across the world.
Meetings Mean Business Coalition
The biggest initiative in the industry was the formation of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) “to showcase the undeniable value that business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences, and conventions bring to people, businesses, and communities.” The coalition works with event professionals, advocates, stakeholders, and vendors to share the importance of the event and meetings industry. The Board of Directors consists of people from industry businesses such as American Express Meetings and Events, ASAE, IAEE, AHLA, Hyatt, Disney, the San Francisco Giants, Convention and Visitors Bureaus, and much more.
A Need for Industry-Wide Advocacy
By bringing people together, the meeting and event industry provides an invaluable platform for people to engage with one another, share ideas and insight, and build new relationships. The resources available in the toolkit on MMBC’s website encompass research that shows nearly everyone (yes, even the C-level executives) find value in face-to-face meetings and events. In fact, according to the Business Leaders Survey, 97% of executives say that meetings deliver a return on investment, 86% believed it help improve the bottom line. And over 80% believed that they have attended/hosted a meeting, conference, or event that would not have yielded the same success as one conducted via video or telephone conference.
If the value is so clearly seen by all people involved, why is funding for these meetings and events not increasing? This was the problem the founders of MMBC saw and sought to find a solution. The industry needed to advertise and promote their value and the benefits of face-to-face meetings and events. For example, the majority of executives surveyed stated that networking, new business opportunities, workforce engagement, training and staying up-to-date on industry trends are best-accomplished face-to-face. Also, notably executives stated that team engagement, collaboration, professional development, and productivity are improved by meetings, conferences and events.
Promotional and Advocacy Efforts
One of the major efforts that the MMBC took was the creation of Global Meetings Industry Day. The first annual GMID was held on April 15 this year and included over 100 events spanning across more than 30 countries to showcase the power that meetings, conventions, and events hold in the business and political world. During the events, the hashtag #GMID2016 was used and reached over 30 million people and received almost 2,000 tweets on April 15 alone.
By conducting original research and compiling documents for an Advocacy Toolkit (which includes: handouts that outline the key findings of the Government Meetings Survey, social media suggestions and outreach, e-mails, and e-newsletter samples, infographics on the value of meetings, and more) the MMBC makes it easy for event professionals to spread awareness. The website acts as a portal for meeting and event industry professionals to gain knowledge, information, and tools to share their cause.
Worth Meeting About
With the presidential election coming up in November, event professionals realized an opportunity to get noticed and launch one of the biggest promotional campaigns for the advocacy of the event and meeting industry. Presidential candidates, senators, representatives, and citizens are participating in a multitude of face-to-face meetings and events to support their candidates, debate against other platforms, and discuss the state of politics.
The MMBC saw this as an excellent chance to advertise during the presidential campaign and further one of their main messages: if government officials and politicians are constantly meeting face-to-face and hosting events to make decisions and develop different policies, then there should be much more support of businesses that have the intent to do the same things. Michael Dominguez, co-chair of MMBC recently stated, “the idea is while all of those policy-makers are together in one place in Philadelphia and Cleveland, we want to take an opportunity to highlight and advertise the importance of meetings. We want to remind them that they’re gathering in those cities for a meeting, because their overall objectives are, as we’re saying, ‘Worth Meeting about.’” The first advertising paid for by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition made its debut last week when the Republican Convention began in Cleveland and included digital signage in the airport as well as billboards in the area.
The issue with the lack of support from government officials regarding the event and meeting industry is that more often than not local, state, and federal governments cut or divert funds from the budgets of convention centers, visitors’ bureaus, and other government-funded event venues. Advocates for the meeting and event industry say that this is the case due to a lack of knowledge of the impact of meetings and the benefits the community sustains, such as jobs and taxes. The MMBC highly targets the local, state, and federal governments around the world with the idea that if they understand the impact of this industry, they will be more likely to budget more of the needed funds to develop meeting and events infrastructure and facilities and as well as help in attracting large events to a city or destination.
We’ve Got Something to Get Behind
As someone who takes pride working in the events industry and being a part of the reason that knowledge is shared and why people are brought together, I think this is a highly beneficial cause to get behind within the industry. Think about the implications this advocacy could have in the future! For example, if the promotional campaign is successful and policy-makers and government officials see the value, event budgets could increase leading to not only increased revenues but also increased opportunities for growth and new experiences within the industry. Attendance would increase as well, seeing as the value of attending would understand and taken advantage of. As the events industry continues to prove its worth, every event professional needs to become an advocate to further to success and economic contributions from the industry. So make sure that as event professionals, you’re also advocates for the progression and growth of the event and meeting industry. Check out the materials that Meetings Mean Business provide, or create your own content and become an industry advocate.