GMID 2020 Drew Virtual Record Attendance

Sheltering in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 made coming together to celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) 2020 impossible, but meeting professionals got creative. An attempt to break the Guinness World Records title for largest audience for a virtual conference by #GMIDGoesVirtual brought an unofficial 12,500 at peak on Tuesday for a half-hour presentation that included Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) leadership from the United States, Canada, India and Mexico.

U.S. MMBC Co-chair and NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon, whose city has taken a hard hit during the pandemic, thanked the industry for its support. “My heart is warmed by the stories of the industry stepping up to help,” he said.

The presentation, which was hosted by Clean Slate Strategies President Jennifer Spear and Social Strategist Miguel Neves, was labeled “the most interactive event in Slido history.” More than 8,800 people participated in the question-and-answer portion of the event, and registered a total of 46,790 votes.

Attendees said the thing they would do first when shelter-in-place orders are lifted was “travel,” followed by family, friends and hugs.

When the question of how you feel right now came up, Spear echoed those of respondents, saying she was “inspired.” Other responses reflected the uncertainty of a time when many planners are out of work: Hopeful, anxious and optimistic were also near the top of the list.

Anh Nguyen, founder of Spark Event Management in Calgary, Alberta, who suggested the virtual meeting in a tweet a month earlier, credited the volunteer efforts of a team that hustled to get the word out and collaborated with all parts of the industry.

Those collaborators included Snoball Influencer Marketing, Event Industry Council, International Live Event Association, Professional Convention Management Association, International Congress and Convention Association, International Association of Professional Congress Organisers, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence Global and International Association of Exhibitions and Events.

“We will come back better and stronger than ever,” Nguyen said.

The group is still awaits official word from Guinness World Records as to whether it won the title.

MPI’s Virtual Day of Learning

One way meeting professionals are regrouping to prepare for lifting of travel bans is by bingeing on education sessions. Meeting Professionals International offered a full day of virtual education starting at 6 a.m. with a closer look at event design. Other sessions included tips on sustainability, pivoting to virtual meetings, legal issues to consider in contracts and crisis communications.

In a state-of-the-industry leadership panel that featured ASAE President and CEO Susan Robertson, Events Industry Council CEO Amy Calvert, Cincinnati USA Group Vice President for Diversity Sales and Inclusion Jason Dunn, Maritz Travel Company Division President Steve O’Malley and MPI President and CEO Paul Van Deventer, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow estimated that more than 5.9 million hospitality jobs and $400 billion in revenue has been lost as a result of the pandemic. “We have to take control of our destiny,” he said.

Dow warned that when events come back, there will be limitations put on how they are structured. “We have to come together as an industry and be involved in defining the standards, rather than letting others define them for us,” he said.