The meetings industry collectively achieved one of the most significant re-alignments of any within the communications spectrum by successfully pivoting the value proposition of business & professional events from one based on tourism receipts and measures alone – the high-yielding travel agent – to one that included the critical part that events play in local and global social, economic, and environmental recovery and regeneration – the change agent.
But despite virtual unanimity of support for highlighting value creation as well as value consumption, the job is far from over.
In-person events, especially, face an existential challenge from climate activism articulated not least by the event tech sector citing the in-person events contribution to GHG’s at over 10% (*source nature.com) and more than the entirety of the United States. However accurate or inaccurate that may be, those with a vested interest in business & professional events will need a robust & coherent body of knowledge to illustrate the handprint, the positive impacts and legacies of events, if it is to countermeasure such claims and avoid taxation levies on business travel, carbon passporting, or worse. It will need this repository and more, not least to follow through on the JMIC/UNFCCC Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge announced at COP26 in Glasgow, but to counterbalance the weight afforded to the carbon footprint of events.
As importantly will be the value proposition presented by event owners to a new generational culture of attendees and sponsors which are increasingly mindful of the need to realize positive social, economic, and sustainable development outcomes from their event attendance and investment. These impacts and longer-term legacies need to be the product of the event design, aligned to the mission and purpose of the professional or business community, then captured and shared not just with the next generation of attendees and investors, but also the meetings industry and its supply chains which can enable advocacy and policy support for, and defence of, the medium of events by illustrating the enormous contributions made to the sustainable development goals and targets (SDGs) to which these events align.