Many of us are well into our 2011 planning and by most accounts, meetings activity and budgets are expected to increase. A short 24 months ago, the industry was panicking; we were under attack and our very existence was in question. Did we learn anything from the past two years?
Think back to fall, 2008: the AIG effect was not yet an effect…it was still an event. The global banking system was unravelling like cassette tape getting eaten during your favorite song…too fast and very permanent. Meetings were being cancelled as organizations had to curb spending to keep up with falling revenues.
When you are drinking from a fire hose, it’s easy. However, when the meetings-revenue-tap got turned off, the industry panicked. We were not organized, we could not justify ourselves, we didn’t have consistent messaging – heck, we couldn’t even agree who we should be talking to, let alone what to say to them.
Now that the revenue tap seems to be running again, the need to panic is over. Did we learn our lesson or are we content to simply have survived the recession? I believe, sadly, as an industry, we are happy to have just survived. What we really need to do is learn from this experience, continue to work towards being a cohesive industry with one voice and one message. We need to develop our government and media relations, so that when the next recession comes – and it will – we are prepared and can justify that meetings and events are critical for organizations to survive.
The Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada was formed during the past two difficult years. As our industry’s panic has declined, so has our perceived need to come together. This initiative should not be abandoned – rather, it should be fostered. Think about how much we could accomplish when we don’t have a loaded gun pointed at our head.