Since conceived back in 2009 to fight a negative impression of events built up during an economic downturn and to promote the economic value of the meeting and convention industry, the Meetings Mean Business Coalition has never lacked for new challenges.
This year, as the industry is emerging from the worst of the Covid pandemic, the organization is merging with the U.S. Travel Association while gearing up for its Global Meetings Industry Day on April 7—and also bringing in a new leader. Martha J. Sheridan, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been named co-chair of MMB. She joins Michael Massari, chief sales officer of Caesars Entertainment, in guiding the coalition as it promotes the value of meetings of all types—trade shows, exhibitions, incentive-travel programs, conferences, and conventions—to people, businesses, and the economy.
We caught up with Sheridan to ask about her goals while at the helm of MMB.
MeetingsNet: Meetings Mean Business was created to connect the dots for lawmakers, business leaders, and the public on the value conventions, trade show, incentives, and other kinds of meetings. Why do you think getting this message out is such a challenge?
Martha Sheridan: We’ve learned throughout the pandemic that there are many aspects of our industry—logistical, practical, and transactional aspects—that lawmakers do not have an intimate understanding of. Business leaders certainly grasp the value of conferences, trade shows, and incentive travel—and the productivity associated with this type of travel—but historically they have not needed to advocate for these events to take place in a safe and successful way. Destination marketing organizations have had to step up and function as that key conduit between business leaders and elected lawmakers.
MeetingsNet: As co-chair of MMB, how will you measure your success?
Sheridan: Are we getting buy in? Are we fostering conversations around the essential role of meetings in driving economic vitality and recovery? We know which market segments will lag, including meetings, business travel, and international delegates traveling here for conferences. Can we expedite that recovery? This will be a key metric in measuring success.
MeetingsNet: What will Boston be doing to celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day on April 7?
Sheridan: We’ll be collaborating with industry partners in Boston and beyond to push messaging around meetings and how critical they are in driving results and productivity. We’ll develop digital assets and key testimonials to disseminate over social channels and through industry-media outlets to drive home how integral the return of meetings will be to overall economic recovery. And we will gather at an event at Fenway Park with our industry partners from the local chapters of Meeting Professionals International and the Professional Convention Management Association to celebrate the day in person.