Skip navigation

A 30,000-Foot View of Meetings and Events Activity

PCMA debuts a program providing ongoing industry data, insights, and strategies for the changing landscape for business events as the COVID-19 pandemic plays out.

The Professional Convention Management Association has released the first edition of its Business Events Compass report, with insights and recommended strategies for meeting professionals to guide both their businesses and their careers during the coronavirus pandemic and in its eventual aftermath.

The inaugural report provides research results from thousands of meeting and event planners, chief human resources officers, and event participants who participated in six PCMA think-tank events plus several business sentiment surveys in the past two months. Interviews with global association executives and hospitality brand leaders, reviews of regional pandemic health policies, and analysis of global econometric recovery models also shaped the report’s insights and advice.

“This is arguably the business-events industry’s most comprehensive research undertaking since the 2009 economic significance studies,” says Valerie Sumner, chair of the PCMA Foundation, which funded the project. “Given the ebbs and flows inherent to this pandemic, our plan is to support ongoing updates of Compass and also invest in the reskilling strategies outlined in its recommendations so our members can thrive.”

In addition to detailing several macro scenarios possible for the pandemic and the implications for the in-person events industry, plus the possible actions planners can take to adapt their event formats and planning approaches, the first edition of Business Events Compass offers other insights, such as:

• The best-case economic recovery scenario for business events (where the virus is fully contained) is currently estimated to be the third quarter of 2021.

• The policies of some large meeting destinations, including Boston and Chicago, currently require the development of a treatment or a vaccine before they will allow large in-person events. Philadelphia won’t allow large events until February 2021, while Los Angeles, New York, Canada, and Italy have indefinite bans on large gatherings.

• The speed of business-event recovery varies significantly by global region, industry economic sector, and event type. But once the recovery period begins in earnest, business events that are smaller and regionally focused will thrive, driven by organizations’ internal meetings as well as modified industry conventions, conferences, and congresses. Exhibitions and incentive-travel experiences will recover much more slowly, however.

• 39 percent of business-event participants ages 25 to 49 years old expect to attend the same or more business events in 2021 than they did in 2019. This compares to 17 percent for participants 50 or more years old.

Business Events Compass is one part of PCMA’s Recovery Discovery campaign, which began in June as a seven-month project comprising business-event research, reskilling development, event experimentation, and new PCMA product releases for business-event stakeholders. The cost to receive updated bi-monthly editions of Business Events Compass through the end of 2020 is $495 for PCMA members and $895 for nonmembers.

To view an executive summary of the first edition of the report, the cost is $49 for nonmembers. It can be found here.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.