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Will They or Won’t They?

June is a big month for meetings-industry events. With the clock ticking, organizations weigh the safety and viability of pressing on.

With the recent announcement that the Global Business Travel Association is moving its May conference to November, June meetings-industry events are now in the spotlight. At least four major meetings hope to bring back face-to-face education and networking for planners and jumpstart the conference world after the unprecedented travel pause caused by the pandemic:
June 6-9: Meeting Professionals International World Education Conference, Grapevine, Texas
June 15-18: Cvent Connect, Las Vegas
June 24-26: Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals Education Forum, Pasadena, Calif.
June 29-July 1: IACC Americas Connect, Dallas [update 4/10/20: IACC has canceled this event and will hold a virtual meeting May 18-21.]

As of press time, all four conferences are moving forward, but they’re not set in stone. Weighing safety and viability, organizers will be making their final decisions in the coming weeks.

MPI, which drew more than 2,500 people to its 2019 WEC event in Toronto, hopes to make its final determination soon. “We plan to make a decision by mid-April if we have the information we need from our host destination and hotel,” said Annette Gregg, CMM, MPI’s senior vice president of experience. “Our first priority is the safety of our participants, and we will create a live experience that people feel safe about attending. We are monitoring the pandemic’s pacing and governmental travel guidelines. If we are confident the hotel and destination can offer this level of secure and safe environment, and enough of our members can participate live or virtually, we plan to move forward.” The virtual option, Gregg says, would only be offered in a hybrid format. “We will only hold a WEC virtual experience with a robust live audience.”

Under the circumstances, MPI is providing registrants with a welcome safety net. “We understand that so many people’s situations are in flux right now—job losses, company travel freezes, etc. If people register but things change and they are no longer able to attend, they will receive a full refund,” Gregg explains.

For FICP’s annual Education Forum, Executive Director Steve Bova, CAE, doesn’t have a specific date when the organization will make a final decision about its viability. “We will know more in late April or early May,” he says. “At the moment, FICP has made no plans or announcements to deviate from its plan to hold the FICP 2020 Education Forum at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif., June 24-26. The FICP Board of Directors, in conjunction with staff, is exploring various options, with the ultimate goal of ensuring we can bring our community together in some capacity at that time.” One option is an online event. “Whatever direction FICP takes,” Bova says, “we are planning to incorporate a virtual component to provide access to education to as many members and hospitality partners as possible, especially for those who might not yet be able to feel comfortable to travel.”

FICP will gain experience in the digital realm next week, when it holds a town-hall meeting via Zoom for members and hospitality partners on April 14 in conjunction with Global Meetings Industry Day: Virtual.


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