Each year, Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) brings together leaders from across the industry to highlight the impact meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions have on people, businesses and the economy. This year’s event from MPI and the EIC (Events Industry Council), more important than ever as we navigate this unprecedented health crisis, consisted of 12 hours of panel discussions, single presenter webinars, Twitter conversations and what is hopefully a Guinness World Record-breaking virtual event.

Since we know many of you are navigating crises, whether personal or professional, and possibly didn’t have the time to join the conversation, our team recapped our favorite sessions that we thought can help set you and your teams up for future success.

Events as Accelerators for the Sustainable Development Goals

Presenters: Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA, Director of Industry Advancement, Event Industry Council and Courtney Lohmann, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, PRA, Inc.

One key topic that continues to show up at event conferences is sustainability. At this point, there are many standard practices such as ensuring recycling bins are available and aligning catering with other in-house groups to cut costs and food waste, but amidst the COVID-19 crisis, new ideas about sustainability and redesigning the event experience in general have emerged. These include:

  • Alleviating congestion points. This may include changing the way we view onsite registration and badge pick up. Confidence and reassurance of safety to attendees starts at registration, which is often their first human touchpoint.
  • Adding additional hygiene practices and signage in facilities
  • Changing meeting room designs to give more space
  • Moving away from buffets with shared servers

Disaster and Crisis Preparedness for Destinations and Venues

Presenters: Cathy Breden, EVP and COO, IAEE; Brad Mayne, President and CEO, International Association of Venue Managers; Miguel Naranjo, Programme Officer, Climate Neutral Now Lead, UN Climate Change; Don Welsh, President and CEO, Destinations International

Times are certainly tough right now, but it’s important to take the opportunity to recognize some of the incredible things happening within our industry. Event professionals have always been resilient and that has been obvious through the duration of the crisis. Here are a few high points for consideration:

  • Venues are jumping in and being repurposed in ways they never thought they would as medical facilities, donation centers, homeless shelters and more, truly showing off their versatility and the ability of venue managers to make any dream a reality.
  • Many destinations have had layoffs and furloughs, however, those with a working sales team are still working hard. More than $1 billion of leads moved through Cvent channels in March. Events impacted by shutdowns are rescheduling, as opposed to canceling, and largely 2020 Q4 and into 2021 which will be a great boost for the tourism economy.
  • As hard as it is, the ability to press pause on events is a great opportunity to build something better, especially in the way of sustainability and climate. We can start with the information listed above.

State of the Meeting Industry Leadership Panel

Presenters: Roger Dow, President & CEO, US Travel Association.; Steve O’Malley, Division President Maritz Travel, Board Chair, MPI; Paul Van Deventer, President & CEO, MPI; Susan Robertson, President & CEO, ASAE;  Amy Calvert, CEO, Events Industry Council; Jason Dunn, Group VP, Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, Chair, NCBMP

Without a doubt, normal will take on a new meeting on the other side of this crisis, and the state of the meetings industry has certainly changed. Here are a few the updates on where things stand:

  • Face-to-face meetings will still be important in the future. We have realized how virtual meetings can be effective, but it will never replace in-person meetings. Digital cannot fill a void, but it can fill a gap. People are craving in-person events and they will come back strong.
  • This is a chance to get a more powerful voice behind the importance of events. Without events, people are realizing their importance and gaining a new appreciation for our industry.
  • This is a time for event professionals to re-train themselves and prepare for what the new events industry will be when we can gather again. MPI is graciously offering its entire learning library for free to members and non-members, which can be accessed here.


If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, but truly, we are all in this together. Nowhere was that more obvious than during #GMIDGoesVirtual, which hopefully broke the Guinness World Record for largest virtual event attendance at more than 12.1 thousand participants. The Guinness World Record team will need to review the data to certify.

This interactive session was designed to provide attendees with a forum to have their voices heard while contributing to valuable industry research, all while connecting with each other. Interactive polls throughout the session provided an understanding of where our industry is at and what it will be when we can start creating in-person events once again.

  • Most people indicated their first live event they are planning or attending this year is coming in September (27%). August (16%) and June (15%) were next in line.
  • Most event profs think that when events do return, they will be a hybrid, offering both in-person and virtual elements.
  • When event profs were asked to state their current emotions in one word, the indicated they feel worry, uncertain, but also optimistic and excited.

No matter what you may be feeling, the team at Experience Columbus is here to help. Please, let us know how you’re feeling and if there’s any way we can support you.