End-of-year Takeaways with EIC’s Amy Calvert
They say time flies when you’re having fun; it moves even faster when a pandemic strikes, having a never-before-seen impact on the events industry and resulting in meeting professionals needing to swim with all their might to stay afloat. No matter the time or year, there are always lessons to be learned, but over the past two years, the lessons have been particularly impactful and significant.
In the spirit of lesson-learning, Smart Meetings spoke with Amy Calvert, CEO of Events Industry Council (EIC), about what she’s learned over the last year about development and resiliency, plus what trends she’s seen take shape.
An Increased Focus on Development
Meeting professionals, by nature, are the type who constantly up their games in the workplace and in life. Calvert has seen this focus on career and personal development accelerate due to the pandemic.
“There has been a significant and vital renewed emphasis on the importance of ‘people, planet and purpose,’” she said. “Our industry has the ability and responsibility to drive meaningful change, create welcoming communities and improve society through our actions. While the industry has made some fantastic progress in terms of equality, diversity and sustainability, our discussion must turn into action.”
EIC has long aided meeting planners in their growth through its certified meetings professionals (CMP) program, but to facilitate the increasing focus on workplace development, it has now developed the CMP Fellows Program, which recognizes current CMPs who continue to make investments toward the betterment of the events industry and its community.
“The events sector really came into its own during the pandemic. There were many ways in which our industry showcased the tenancy, adaptability and flexibility for which it is renowned,” Calvert said. She referred to the numerous examples of the industry coming together to support the health-care system, including offering spaces to roll out mass testing and vaccination centers—Las Vegas Convention Center offering Covid tests for city residents, for example, and Marriott International offering tests for corporate groups.
“Moving forward, while it can be a challenge to keep on top of the different rules and regulations of each country, it has become apparent that we must look at value creation,” she said. “We need to focus our conversations on what is essential and drives value as we continue to build the global events industry.”
Back to Normal What?
“I do not want the industry to revert back to life pre-Covid,” Calvert said. “I am visualizing a stronger and more resilient future for our industry, but to create this we must evolve and think about things differently.” She recommended that the industry as a whole should step back and ask “what it is we do, why it matters” and what ability does it have to accelerate change when it unites for the common good?
“Globally, we have an existential crisis on our hands, and we must be a part of the solution. There are key issues that affect us all, from climate change to equity and diversity,” she added.
Connect and Lead Well
Above all, Calvert hopes that event professionals understand how much leadership matters, internally and externally.
“The events industry is built on partnerships and communication,” she said. “We need to make time to connect with our colleagues and partners and ensure we are collectively focused on hosting open and honest dialogue. We owe that to one another. Let’s make time for the important conversations that really matter and lead to change.”
2022 and Beyond
“It is difficult to predict what our industry could look like next year, considering how much change we have experienced in recent years,” Calvert said. She believes safety precautions including masks and proof of vaccination will retain their importance until Covid-19 turns endemic, affecting only localized areas and populations.
“In the short term I believe the industry will continue to prioritize and invest in in-person event experiences, as they help us to foster human connections and develop new and existing relationships,” she said. “The feeling of being together cannot be replicated in a digital environment.”