What unprecedented times we’re living in right now. I’m not sure any of us could have predicted this crisis or the extent to which industries would be so fundamentally impacted by COVID-19, especially ours. However, recent estimates from the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, predict staggering losses in the U.S. of 8 million jobs in meetings and travel by the end of this month.
As someone who has spent years championing in-person meetings and the benefits they bring to people, businesses and the economy, I’m struck by the challenges we face. And I know I’m not alone.
It’s hard to envision what the future of our business looks like, but one thing is very clear: we need a coordinated effort to ensure that industry leaders have a seat at the table as decisions are being made about funding, how to “re-open” businesses and how to restart the economy.
Now is not the moment to sit back and wait. It’s the time to keep our foot on the gas pedal when it comes to engaging with key stakeholders and pushing our industry forward. That’s exactly what the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) is doing, alongside the U.S. Travel Association and coalition partners around the world.
MMBC is leading outreach and identifying new ways to engage with those who rely upon our advocacy. Amidst the turmoil, living by our mantra – one industry, one voice – is more important now than ever before.
Our efforts are designed to bring immediate relief to those struggling and pave the way for long-term recovery.
As a coalition, we’re encouraging continued acts of service and broadcasting examples like these of the industry’s willingness to help, even as meetings and events are being cancelled. We’re committed to sharing every act – from donating food and health supplies to venue space and funds for community-based organizations. In doing so, we’re sending a powerful message not only to others in the industry but also to policymakers, business leaders, members of the media and the public.
But that’s not all. Working with U.S. Travel’s policy experts, we’re ensuring the industry’s short-term needs are met and that federal economic relief is secured for the people and businesses that need it most. The fight is far from over. However, it’s due to these efforts that the meetings industry is being contemplated by lawmakers, White House officials and other leading architects of federal stimulus legislation.
And although good news is harder to come by these days, I’m confident there’s more hope on the horizon.
A survey from APCO Insight helps paint the picture – confidence in our industry is strong and Americans are eager to return to face-to-face meetings and events when physical distancing ends. According to the survey, 83% of Americans working from home during to COVID-19 say they miss attending in-person meetings and conventions. 78% say they plan to attend as many or more in-person meetings and conventions when the crisis has passed.
The results are a strong indication of consumer intent and our industry’s enduring value. People are hungry to return to face-to-face meetings and we’re glad to give them something to look forward to.
While we are not there yet, I am optimistic about where we are going and invite you to join us in paving the way for recovery.