Society of Government Meeting Professionals Executive Director Pamela Valenzuela, CAE, shares some thoughts on the recent partial government shutdown and offers advice on preparing for an uncertain future.
How did the shutdown affect your organization?
Valenzuela: We extended the time for the association’s national elections, so more of our members would have time to respond. Now that the shutdown is over, we plan to conduct a survey of our members to document the impact and collect advice to help our members better prepare for the challenges of any future shutdowns, travel bans, and other appropriations delays. SGMP is in the process of revising the curriculum for its Certified Government Meeting Professional designation, which will include more resources and tools to help meeting professionals respond in the event of a shutdown.
S&P Global Ratings estimates that the shutdown has cost the U.S. economy $6 billion. What other problems are you concerned about?
Valenzuela: The human impact of the partial Federal Government shutdown should not be overlooked. In-person meetings and conferences are a valuable way that government and industry leaders collaborate, share knowledge and training, and build relationships that drive our nation’s innovation and prosperity. The collateral damage remains to be seen.
How did the shutdown impact your members?
Valenzuela: Our association serves members who are government planners, contract planners, and those who provide services to the industry such as hotels, CVBs, and other event venues. Though most state and local government planners were not directly affected, federal meeting planners have been affected by the shutdown. Some worked without pay, some did not work at all and did not have access to their work email, and some worked with pay. Even those who worked told us they were scheduling meetings but still had to work around constraints related to the shutdown.
Were you able to advise members on canceled/reduced meetings?
Valenzuela: SGMP has no role in negotiating fees and rebooking, but we arm our members with relationships and knowledge to help them be resilient in handling these issues during and after shutdowns. Trainings through our CGMP designation and our annual conference to be held this year June 25-27, in Detroit, Mich., are some ways our national organization brings meeting professionals, both planners and suppliers—together.