CHICAGO — More than 12,500 event and hospitality professionals joined together on April 14 to celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) in a Meetings Mean Business online event called GMID Goes Virtual.
Participants, who were from more than 30 countries, came together in an effort to break the Guinness World Record of 15,000 for the largest audience for a live stream conference, and to build hope and inspiration for the worldwide events community in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
The event also offered a snapshot of how the pandemic has affected the world of live events. Using the audience interaction tool Slido, organizers say more than 8,800 participants responded to several survey questions. Some poll results:
44% of respondents said that of the 2020 events that they had planned to attend or were involved in planning, only a “small portion” had been moved to an online format; 35% of respondents said “none” had been moved online; and 11% said “half” had pivoted to a virtual format.
More than two-thirds of respondents said that more hybrid meetings would likely be the biggest change to meetings post COVID-19. (Hybrid events combine face-to-face with a virtual component.)
Other virtual gatherings to mark the day included an online roundtable discussion hosted by the Events Industry Council and another hosted by Meeting Professionals International. Both events featured industry leaders who discussed the impact of the pandemic and outlined what needs to be done to provide more relief for businesses and professionals in the events and hospitality industry.
Panelists in MPI’s leadership roundtable emphasized the importance of the industry uniting behind efforts to lobby the U.S. government for aid in specific areas. Susan Robertson, President and CEO of American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), for example, described how her association is “advocating aggressively” to ensure that 501(c)(6) organizations are included in the Small Business Administration’s loans in the next phase of relief. She said ASAE is also lobbying for the federal government to act as a “backstop” for event insurance.
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, agreed that more aid is needed, and said that it’s also important to emphasize the role that meetings can play in fueling the global economy’s recovery. “Every month that we don’t recover, according to Oxford Economics, costs $22 billion to the GDP and 300,000 jobs,” he said. “So, if we can shorten recovery from a year and a half down to six months, the numbers are phenomenal.”