Proving the value of meetings and events around the world
Last week, meeting and event professionals joined together in support of Global Meetings Industry Day, an annual day of advocacy communicating and celebrating the impact of the industry on our economies, businesses, and communities. Companies, organizations, and other professionals participated in speaking engagements, press conferences, special events, and more to help educate others about the value of our business.
GMID celebrations took place far and wide, big and small, and Freeman was there in support of many of the events around the world. Our chairman Donald S. Freeman, Jr. was on hand in New Orleans to give the keynote address at a jazzy Meetings Mean Business luncheon, along with Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Mr. Freeman talked about the value of meetings and what they mean to the economy going forward, including the importance of creating a unique, personalized experience for the attendee that meets the high expectations of today’s complex audience.
He stressed that we must focus on getting ahead of policies and social issues that affect meetings and exhibitions, such as travel restrictions, labor regulations, and safety initiatives, in order to understand their potential effect and how to best work with them for positive results. But most of all, Mr. Freeman emphasized the true value of our industry — and how the event business is projected to grow in the coming years.
In fact, Bill Kubiak, vice president and general manager for Freeman AV, said in his remarks at the GMID Chicago event that our industry — the travel, meetings, and events industry — is a larger driver of the U.S. economy than the automotive industry. What’s more, as people value experience over possessions and brands or organizations realize the value of the face-to-face connection, this impact will only increase.
The Chicago event also featured Mayor Rahm Emanuel and focused heavily on the incredible event opportunities available in the city — over a million people showed up downtown during the World Series and after the Cubs’ historic win — and the issues of logistics and security. The importance of experience was a message that rose to the top in Chicago as well, with experts emphasizing how much people want events to be more unique and more human. Larry Luteran, chief sales officer and executive vice president for Freeman AV, echoed that in his remarks at the GMID event in Atlantic City. According to Luteran, technology has not killed live communication — it has driven it further, and people want to be able to control their experience and truly participate in a face-to-face setting.
Sustainability was a through line at many GMID events, with a focus at the MPI South Florida chapter event. Jeff Chase, vice president of sustainability as well as chair of the Global Meetings Industry Council, presented the keynote about the business case for sustainability and the need for meeting and events professionals to continue to align with green best practices and goals as more organizations establish sustainability policies.
Another common theme was how meetings and events have the potential to make a difference around the world, whether raising awareness for issues or directly working to create change toward a specific purpose. Stephen Lewis, one of Canada’s most influential commentators on social affairs, international development, and human rights, was this year’s keynote speaker at the Toronto GMID event. Chris Siedel, Regional Director of Strategic Partnerships for Eastern Canada with Freeman AV Canada, said, “He challenged us to think about global issues and problems in the world that we as Canadians or North Americans are less exposed to and might not always think about. This encouraged me to think about the positive impact we can have as the meetings and events industry to help spread awareness at our events or raise funds for humanitarian needs.”
The drumbeat continued in Europe and with our EMEA team, with local MPI chapters and event industry organizations hosting their own GMID events. According to Lesley Mason, client services director for FreemanXP EMEA, “Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) is a great initiative, as it encourages us to take a step back and reflect on the unique and valuable nature of our work. I predict GMID will only continue to be more widely embraced in line with our ever-growing sector.”
Events are growing and becoming more diverse as they play increasingly important social, cultural, and economic roles in our lives. And that’s because of the work that we do in our industry. Not only do we bring our clients’ brands to life in front of their most important audiences, but we deliver experiences that people want to capture and share way beyond the event itself. GMID is more than just an awareness opportunity for our industry — it’s a way to reflect on what we have accomplished and look toward the future of experience, and our world.
In honor of GMID, Freeman released a new volume of content focused on macro trends driving the future of brand experience — and the world.