I had slight misgivings about choosing a cover depicting an anxiety-producing topic — meeting professionals’ concerns over safety and security at their events — for our December issue. I would have preferred to end the year on a more positive note. But after Donald Trump’s surprise election, our topic seems right on target.
Why? Because we know that your concerns about the potential for a terrorist attack or other violent incident to occur at your event have risen over the past ﬁve years. You told us that as part of a recent Convene survey, the results of which are incorporated into Executive Editor Christopher Durso’s cover and CMP Series story. We also know, from polls conducted among voters in the months leading up to the presidential election, that the threat of terrorism — the centerpiece of Trump’s campaign — became the single most important issue for voters. They even overtook concerns about the economy, and no doubt contributed to his election. It would seem that meeting professionals are internalizing their anxiety about the larger world as part of their responsibility to look after the welfare of their attendees.
What else might be worrying meeting professionals about the state of our industry as President Trump takes office? Attorney Joshua Grimes, who works with the meetings industry, sent me a short list of potential issues he sees playing out, including labor shortages at hotels and restaurants (and resulting higher costs) due to decreased availability of workers for positions traditionally ﬁlled by immigrants, greater hurdles for foreign citizens to attend meetings in the U.S., and uncertain costs for meetings outside the U.S. due to changing trade policies and currency valuations.
I’d add sustainability to Joshua’s list. As a recent Fast Company article noted, Trump has said that he will cancel the global climate agreement from last year’s Paris climate conference. That may not be possible, but it does give rise to the question: Will having a lax approach to environmentalism at the highest level of government lead businesses — including the meetings industry — to scale back on their sustainability initiatives? The Fast Company article suggests just the opposite — that businesses will drive climate action themselves. And so will major U.S. cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, whose mayors have joined C40, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.
We lack such a formal commitment in our industry, but we are making slow but steady progress on sustainability. As our Plenary lead story about the latest edition of the Green Venues Report shows, more convention centers are going to greater lengths to conduct business in a more environmentally responsible way. We need for that good work to continue.