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Lausanne, Switzerland, is the site for a new PCMA event in October.

4 Takeaways from a PCMA Leadership Brief

New inclusivity honors, launch of an EMEA conference, broken attendance records, and an unusual recipient of the Chairman’s Award

During the Professional Convention Management Association’s 2021 Convening Leaders conference, which is taking place this week as a virtual event, association leadership took some time to talk with the media to about successes and challenges of 2020 and some highlights on the horizon.

While the conversation touched on many topics, here are four key points from the call.

And the Winner Is…
The chair of PCMA’s Board of Directors gets the privilege of deciding who will get the annual Chairman’s Award, which traditionally goes to an individual or organization for contributions to the industry. For 2020 Chair Stuart Ruff-Lyon, CMP, DES, vice president events and education at RIMS, the risk management society, this was no easy task, and he made an unusual choice for an unusual year: The Chairman’s Award went to members who lost their jobs from the pandemic. “It was impossible for me as the chair of PCMA to pick one person or one organization that really stood up above all others,” he said. “I wanted to find a way to award those people who have stayed connected to PCMA despite the unprecedented job losses and the uncertainty of the industry.” For members in transition, PCMA is continuing free membership benefits as well as complimentary access to all PCMA events and educational programs through June 30, 2021.

In-Person Events to Come
PCMA has two in-person events on the books this spring: The Visionary Awards on June 2 at the Hilton Washington, in Washington, D.C., and PCMA EduCon on June 6-9 at JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix. “I know everyone would say, ‘Can that happen?’ We will play it by ear,” said Sherrif Karamat, PMCA’s CEO. For October, however, expectations for in-person events are less in question, and on October 17-19 the association will hold its first Convening EMEA. The new omni-channel event, which has grown out of the European Influencer Summit that PCMA started in 2017, will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland, and bring together event professionals from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Equity and Inclusion
The June Visionary Awards in Washington, D.C., will have a new category: The PCMA Groundbreakers Award. “It’s dedicated to honoring industry trailblazers who represent diverse sectors of the business events community,” said Angie Ranalli, PCMA Foundation Chair-Elect and the vice president of sales, Midwest region at the San Diego Tourism Authority. “The award will serve to recognize those who’ve made a significant contribution to their organizations and programs that advance inclusion and equity. The idea for a content series [in Convene magazine] and award were developed by our Black Lives Matters working group, to honor and memorialize a living history of pioneers in the business events industry who made a difference for the black business events community.”

Despite Everything…
Even with the pandemic and all the disruption, 2020 was a peak year for PCMA, said CEO Karamat. He noted that the year started with all-time high attendance at Convening Leaders in San Francisco, and that membership had hit a record 8,000 by the end of the year. “We saw massive growth in Gen Z involvement in PCMA. At the end of the year, we had more than 1,500 Gen Z folks in our organization actively engaged,” he said, noting that it was “wonderful to see that they like digital and face-to-face events equally.” Karamat also noted that the Digital Event Specialist Program has been extremely popular, with 2,900 graduates over the past 10 months, and that PCMA plans to roll out two new courses for the program this year. Other milestones of 2020: the first Convening Asia-Pacific in November, the acquisition of the Corporate Event Marketers Association, and the launch of the Business Event Compass business-recovery plan.

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