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Latest Industry Survey Has Some Hope, Some Advice

The report from Meeting Professionals International finds bad news for handshakes but positive news for virtual meetings.

MPI’s most recent Meetings Outlook surveyed planners after meetings and events were halted due to the pandemic, and not surprisingly the results show a difference in respondents’ predictions from past surveys. In fall 2019, 33 percent of planners had a negative outlook on business conditions; this summer that percentage rose to 59. Employment in the industry has also dropped: Full-time positions have decreased 41 percent and contract workers by almost 50 percent.

One figure to celebrate is a projected increase of 87 percent in virtual meetings, which shows that people still want to get together even if they are not in the same physical space.

The survey also revealed that only seven percent of planners are presently comfortable shaking hands with others, but more than half of survey participants said they would be comfortable attending an outdoor meeting with 100 or fewer attendees.

A key component that is hard to quantify was addressed in the survey: the emotional well-being of industry professionals. Monica Grinage-Prince, CMP, CMM, conference manager for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, suggested five ways to minimize negative emotions during this period of uncertainty.

1. Practice mindfulness, meditation and/or prayer.
2. Keep a journal documenting your thoughts and feelings. One day you will read it in disbelief.
3. Tool and re-tool your skills. Take advantage of the free opportunities to improve your skill set.
4. Find opportunities to give your time and talent back to the industry.
5. Adapt. If money runs out, temporarily shift your skills to another industry. Meeting professionals are natural project managers.

Find the full Summer 2020 Meetings Outlook edition here.

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