While corporate meetings have been casualties of the current financial crisis in many parts of the world, they remain a key element in the business and professional development process and will have to reshape themselves in response to new conditions as recovery takes hold, said a panel of leading industry observers yesterday. Speaking on an industry-wide webinar entitled "The Green Shoots of Growth" which was jointly sponsored by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) and IMEX, the worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events, panellists Christine Duffy, President & CEO of Maritz Travel; Luca Favetta, Senior Director Global Events EMEA, SAP AG; Andrew Latta, Head of Corporate Events, Aviva, and David Kliman, President of The Kliman Group explored both the impacts of the current crisis on corporate meetings as well as the factors that will play a role in recovery.
Panellists noted that some of the most important elements of economic growth include the kind of technical innovation, product development and marketing activity that corporate meetings deliver. The return to an active program of corporate meetings is therefore not simply a benefit to the meetings industry but an essential element of overall economic recovery.
They also agreed that meetings and incentive programs had in some cases been unfairly associated with corporate spending excesses and that a concerted effort was required to better communicate their true role in the business process. While the hour long webinar covered a wide variety of perspectives, there was general agreement that three key areas had to be addressed; first, a greater effort to communicate the role and importance of meetings; second, to enhance the strategic value of meetings, particularly from the perspective of participants, and third, to devise and practice better measurement of meeting outcomes in order to document and demonstrate their value.
The webinar, which attracted over 210 participants, will be available shortly with both audio and video components on the web page
JMIC President Leigh Harry observed that the image of meetings and conventions may have suffered from some of the rhetoric that followed recent events linked to the global crisis and the influx of public investment that followed. "Every reputable study has indicated that meetings and events are one of the, if not the most cost-effective element in the corporate marketing mix, and it is shocking to see the way that negative media stories over the last few months have ignored this and created a negative caricature of our business. This tremendous IMEX-JMIC webinar initiative is a small step in the road to rebuilding a true image of the potential power of corporate meetings, and we hope it will help us to focus on future prospects for growth, and to demonstrate how meetings can make a significant contribution towards finding solutions to the current economic and business challenges."
IMEX owner Ray Bloom said that his organization was committed to supporting initiatives like the webinar and related activities such as the Politician’s Forum that takes place at IMEX in Frankfurt each year as vehicles for making the industry more effective in addressing issues that affect its future. “Good communications is the key to coordinated action in dealing with the kinds of challenges now facing the industry, and we’re pleased to be able to create forums for discussion and strategy development like this webinar and our Politician’s Forum at IMEX”, says Ray Bloom. “Like all economic cycles, this one will move into recovery but it’s helpful to have the best available information as to when and how the turnaround will begin so the industry can plan accordingly and share our insights with political leaders”.
JMIC is an organization representing the collective interests of major associations engaged in the convention, meetings, exhibitions and incentive travel sectors which are collectively defined as the Meetings Industry. JMIC members include AIPC (The International Association of Congress Centres); COCAL (The Latin American Confederation of PCO and Related Companies); DMAI (Destination Marketing Association International), ECM (European Cities Marketing); EVVC, the European Association of Event Centres; IAPCO (The International Association of Professional Congress Organizers); ICCA (The International Congress and Convention Association); MPI (Meeting Professionals International), PCMA (The Professional Convention Association Management Association) and SITE (the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives). It is also supported by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and the CIC (Convention Industry Council).