Global Meetings Industry Day 2020 around the world.

For the three previous Global Meetings Industry Days since The Iceberg launched, Business Events World has scavenged the event’s many social media postings to create montages of jolly images (2017, 2018 and 2019).

With the GMID 2020 being suddenly virtual, the volume of photography this year is too small to plunder, and a standard screen grab must suffice. But the online event was nevertheless huge, with almost 13,000 delegates registering and nearly 11,000 participating, according to MPI.

GMID’s call for solidarity in adversity was powerful, but how grim times are for the sector at the moment! One of the saddest press releases this cycle was the letter from Unicorn Events MD Hannah Luffman explaining her decision to close the agency. In legend unicorns were supposed to heal diseases. How terrible to see them succumbing to one.

In News this issue, read how the industry has been serving on the COVID-19 front line. Harrogate Convention Centre is the latest UK venue to be converted into an NHS Nightingale temporary hospital. ExCeL London has confirmed that its own use as a hospital is rent-free. The Sunday Times had claimed ADNEC would be charging the NHS £2-3 million a month. Stockholmsmässan in Sweden is also now set up as a field hospital, in joint partnership with the Swedish Armed Forces, Region Stockholm and Locum. The American Hospital Association (AHA) is leading its 100 Million Masks Challenge to ramp up production of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. The Adelaide Convention Centre and other venues of its parent operator are using their commercial kitchens to cook meals for food charities.

COVID-19 financial relief also runs right across our News headlines. Iceberg partner ASAE plus almost 3,000 associations have asked the US Congress to offer further aid to trade and professional groups. The UK’s Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage has held an online meeting with over twenty industry CEOs about the government’s £70 billion fund for business events. About 60 percent of the UK industry’s supplier base faces ruin unless the government offers more support, according to a survey just out. During the virtual Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), leaders from major sector organisations suggested focusing on the longer-term and working together to help industry recovery.

Also in News this issue, the 2020 2nd AAT-AD/PD™ Focus Meeting has been held as a wholly virtual event. The Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease conference actually pre-recorded 250 speakers. Iceberg partner ICCA and recently-launched CIMERT (Center of International Meetings Research and Training) are jointly monitoring the status of meetings in the ICCA Association Database affected by the crisis. Plus, the UAE has filed a formal request to postpone Expo 2020 Dubai. The suggested new dates are October 1st 2021 to March 31st 2022, but the proposal also asks for the name to remain “Expo 2020 Dubai”.

All twelve Opinions this issue are fresh. Two are covering convention centres now operating as field hospitals. New York’s Javits Center has been put to use in crises before, but never until now as a hospital. Across the US other venues are set up as hospitals too, like McCormick Place in Chicago and the Michigan Expo Center. But why choose them for this use? Two articles tackle virtual events. COVID-19 has led to many organisers seriously looking into online meetings, in some cases for the first time. Plus, a week out from welcoming over 1,200 attendees to its annual Business Conference in Madison, PDPW (Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin) pivoted the meeting to virtual and ended up doubling its reach.

Three Opinions cover associations in the age of the pandemic. In the first part of a series, a mix of leading association voices on the Advisory Board of Iceberg partner Boardroom talks through individual and group experiences. With the timescales of lockdown uncertain, associations should find new ways to support and connect members. So says the CEO of Iceberg partner Talley Management Group, Gregg Talley. A broader editorial considers that international association meetings may be the best of globalisation, even as COVID-19 puts the latter under further attack. Plus, another editorial overview looks at the entire business events sector. We are learning so much about ourselves through this crisis, but also need the world outside to learn about us and our £70 billion sector.

Also in Opinions this issue, two more Iceberg ambassadors. Oscar Cerezales, Global Executive VP Corporate and COO Asia Pacific at Iceberg partner MCI, imagines the events industry that will emerge beyond COVID-19. In March Iceberg partner IMEX was forced to cancel its Frankfurt show. Group CEO Carina Bauer talks more about that difficult decision, crisis management, team spirit and IMEX America. Finally, two articles remind us of how the world used to meet. Māori culture gives New Zealand its distinct identity, but is also moving centre stage at events the country is hosting. More and more medical associations are involving real patients in their congresses, and the result is meetings that are engaging, insightful and enlightening.

There are three additions to Features this issue. Ten scientific conferences are trying to buck the trend by experimenting in their meeting design. Luxembourg has major ambitions in green meetings and sustainability, including joining Iceberg partner the Global Destination Sustainability Index. Plus in an Iceberg exclusive video, Melbourne Convention Bureau CEO Julia Swanson puts into perspective the events offering of Victoria’s capital.

In Research you’ll find added the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) survey How is COVID-19 Changing the Business Events Industry? Also fresh is Convention and Exhibition Centres as Temporary Emergency Facilities, another indispensable guide to best practice from Iceberg partners AIPC and UFI.

This issue’s parish notices start with previously published coronavirus resource pages from within our own partner community: the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), IMEX Group, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT)Association Meetings International (AMI) and Boardroom.

UFI President Mary Larkin has issued a message to the industry. There are changes announced to UFI’s education programmes. The UFI European Conference in Gothenburg has been cancelled for 2020.

The European Exhibition Industry Alliance (EEIA), a partnership between UFI and EMECA (the European Major Exhibition Centres Association) has released documentation listing support from the EU and national governments in Europe for businesses in general and the exhibition industry in particular.

UFI’s has launched its UFI Connects online sessions. Iceberg partner IBTM has launched IBTM Connect – Keep the Conversation Going.

Iceberg partner GainingEdge has posted three advisories COVID-19 and Destination PromotersPutting Some Order to the Chaos and What to Ask Associations Beyond “Will You Be Rebooking?”, plus Bulletin: COVID-19 Issue #1.

Iceberg partner European Cities Marketing has posted “A New Tomorrow” ECM COVID-19 Response.

There are further resources at the Events Industry Council (EIC), the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) and at Meetings Mean Business. Northstar Meetings Group has posted a running list of New Dates for Events and Conventions Postponed Due to Coronavirus. Northstar has also Launched a New Survey to Gauge the Future of Meetings and Events in the Era of COVID-19.

There is an outbreak advisory from the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), via UFI. A video has been posted by a bearded Andrew Hiebl, CEO of the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux,

Iceberg partner Positive Impact Events is seeking 100,000 event professionals to build the future of the industry. There is a great video here.

Finally and as always, The Iceberg reiterates its call for you to join our Global Ambassador Program. You can see ambassadors listed on The Iceberg homepage, Ambassadors page, and in Business Events World below. Visit Call for Ambassadors 2019 & 2020 to find out more.

Until the next time…

Robert Coren, Curator of The Iceberg


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