Global Meetings Industry Day, held April 12, 2018, is truly a global event where meeting professionals from all segments of the industry gather to spread the message about the value of meetings.

And yes, some meeting and event professionals will indeed celebrate with their peers within this multifaceted and vibrant profession we’re fortunate enough to work in or call a career.

The facts about the value of face-to-face meetings are undeniable (not fake news!)—it’s nearly a $1 trillion industry, according to some estimates (see the Executive Summary from Oxford Economics’ and the Events Industry Council's recent “Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy” at the end of this article).

[Related Content: More Information on GMID 2018 Events]

Meetings Today thought it would be an interesting exercise to flip the GMID equation by asking some key meetings industry thought leaders and influencers the following question:

Global Meetings Industry Day places an emphasis on how we as an industry can better promote what we do to outsiders, on both a local and national level (and even a global one). From an insider’s perspective, what should we focus on in the meetings industry to improve it from within?

Following are their responses:

Joan Eisenstodt Headshot“We need to be more informed about laws proposed in our own communities, countries and around the world that impact travel and attendance at meetings.

“We need to be more strategic in how we view meetings as a tool for education—I've heard it's the greatest avenue of adult education—and how we can improve delivery methods.

“We also need to look at the practices of our industry and our own actions that keep people safe and sound and ensure those who work in the industry and how we are viewed because of actions such as the Vegas massacre or the sexual exploitation of workers is seen as smart and sound.”

- Joan Eisenstodt, Chief Strategist, Eisenstodt Associates and Meetings Today blogger

Nancy Zavada Headshot“From an insider’s perspective, meeting professionals should be forward thinking in how our events can be safer, more sustainable and healthier for participants.

“We have a rare opportunity to impact the lives of so many individuals and their communities and we don't take full advantage of it. By providing a 'learning lab' during our events, we can model practices designed for a better future.

“Likewise, by serving as thought leaders in our organizations and the outside world, promoting meetings will become less of a challenge.”

- Nancy Zavada, Founder & President, MeetGreen

Sandy Biback Headshot“I think GMID needs to take on much larger topics.

“Yes, economics and spending is important. Equally important are topics like what our industry can do to help curb human exploitation, whether that’s in the form of sex trafficking or using indebted labor to make the uniforms the hotel staff wear.

“I think we need to take a stand; I think we all need to get educated in this area and figure out what our individual focus will be. For MPAHT [Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking] it is sex trafficking and our industry.

“This is becoming quite the ‘in topic’ (Jeez, that sounds awful) today in both Canada and the U.S. I also know it is topical in the U.K. Will this attract media on the good stuff we are doing? Don’t know.

“I generally know if we continue to do what we’ve always done (pat ourselves on the back for our huge economic impact) we will get what we’ve always gotten—industry media and nothing to do in the 12 months between GMIDs.”

- Sandy Biback, Imagination + Meeting Planners, advocate for MPAHT

Charles Chan Massey Headshot“Lest we forget, the anti-LGBT movement is alive and well.

“Recent legislation in Bermuda is set to roll back marriage equality when it takes effect in June and it’s only because of the hard work of the LGBT community that a ballot initiative which would have all but erased the trans community from public life in Anchorage failed to garner sufficient votes.

“As an industry we need to make sure we are aware of any actual or potential legislation that might directly target the safety of our attendees. Additionally, my position on boycotting destinations because of anti-LGBT legislation has evolved a bit of late.

“While I still won’t go out of my way to patronize a country, state or municipality that openly discriminates against my community, I will, when circumstances dictate, bring business to such locales. But first I will reach out to the local LGBT leadership and find out what they might need from me.

“How can I help the local LGBT community, which in many destinations makes a living by working in the hospitality industry? That’s a much better way for our industry to help rather than simply not taking our business to such destinations, which will hurt those in both our greater community and our industry.”

- Charles Chan Massey, Founder and CEO, SYNAXIS Meetings & Events;
Executive Director,
The Personal Stories Project

Tracy Stuckwrath Headshot“The meetings industry needs to focus on creating safer and more inclusive food and beverage environments for all participants. Those with food allergies, other medically-necessary diets or who follow religious and life-style dietary guidelines should not be alienated—or left hungry—because they have a dietary need and we fail to provide options that they can safely enjoy.

“From the chefs in the kitchen to the servers on the floor, meeting planners, catering managers and everyone else in the event food chain, should create environments that meet the needs of all.”

- Tracy Stuckrath, CSEP, CMM, CHC, Thrive! Meetings and Events

And last but not least, here is the Executive Summary from Oxford Economics’ and the Events Industry Council's recent “Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy” if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

  • Meetings supported a total economic impact in 2016 of $845 billion of output (business sales), 5.9 million jobs with $249 billion of labor income, $446 billion of GDP and $104 billion of federal, state and local taxes.
  • The direct meetings spending associated with 43 meeting participants supported 1 U.S. job, on average in 2016, including both direct and indirect impacts.
  • On average, each meeting participant supported $416 of tax revenue in 2016, including $215 of federal tax revenue and $165 of state and local tax revenue.
  • The total tax impact per household was $879 per U.S. household in 2016. This tax offset represents the federal, state and local taxes that would otherwise need to be paid per U.S. household to compensate for the absence of meeting sector activity.
  • Meetings generated $325 billion of direct spending, including $167 billion to plan and produce meetings, $120 billion for meetings travel and $38 billion of other direct spending, such as spending by exhibitors.
  • Meetings direct spending is growing, expanding 23% since 2009, primarily due to an expanding number of meeting participants.
  • On average, $1,294 was spent per meeting participant.
  • Two-thirds of meeting spending was associated with domestic overnight meeting participants.
  • Six million international meeting participants generated $38 billion of meetings direct spending (11.5% of the sector total).
  • Meetings generated 300 room nights.
  • The meetings sector supported 2.5 million jobs, with $95.6 billion of direct wages and salaries. The sector directly generated $184.2 billion of GDP.

It’s great to know why and how the meetings industry benefits local, national and global economies. However, there is a lot more our industry can do to help others and itself, as shown in the quotes above.

Keep that in mind for your discussions around the office and while attending GMID events. Or even the next time you’re out and about at one of the major industry events or networking with other planners.

What do you think we should focus on as a meetings industry to improve it from within?

Respond with your own thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.