To the Point

It’s All About People

Why we need to go beyond money when we talk about the benefits of face-to-face events.

One of the lessons from the GSA scandal is that our industry is still in need of a consistent messaging campaign about the value of face-to-face meetings.

The landmark Economic Significance Study that was released last year by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, under the guidance of 14 meetings industry organizations including PCMA, sent an important message: In-person events make an enormous contribution to the economy.  But what’s still sorely needed is a message that goes beyond economic value.  We need solid talking points comprised of more than anecdotal evidence about how people — and in turn, their organizations — succeed as a direct result of participating in organized face-to-face events.

At the end of the day, the meetings industry is a people industry.  It’s about convincing different kinds of people with different levels of experience, often from different kinds of employers, in different geographical regions, to get up from their desks and come together for a common purpose.  It’s about creating unique face-to-face experiences.  It’s about helping participants learn and grow and make connections, so that when they return home, they’re in a better position to make a difference in their respective lines of work.

PCMA is really quite similar.  At our core, we’re a people organization.  Our strategic goals revolve around connecting and building community among PCMA members, educating our members and those across the industry, and promoting the value of professional convention management.

At PCMA, we’re working hard to reach out to all different types of people involved in the meetings industry and to better serve the varying needs of our members.  We’ve been growing our membership in several vertical markets and will be expanding our outreach outside North America.  We’ve also made some changes to better serve and communicate with our existing members, and are working to engage different sub-groups, including new professionals and educators.

As for the benefits — beyond those that are purely economic — of face-to-face meetings, PCMA will continue to advocate across industry organizations for a consistent messaging campaign.  In the meantime, we’re collaborating with ASAE, U.S. Travel, and other groups to try to reverse post-GSA legislation that limits government employees’ attendance at any private meetings.  (Read more about industry pushback over GSA.) We’ve also held webinars and have been reminding industry professionals of the educational resources PCMA has available to help them execute events using the highest meeting planning standards.

What steps have you taken to communicate the value — both economic and non-economic — of your own meetings? How can PCMA assist you in that mission? Write to me at

 Convening People

While the goal of our industry is to bring people together to network and learn, we recognize that not everyone learns — or interacts with each other — in the same way.  Convene Senior Editor Barbara Palmer interviewed Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, to learn how planners can design events that engage the less outgoing among us.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.