Inaugural Business Events Industry Week Draws 2,000 to D.C.

business events industry week

The inaugural Business Events Industry Week, held March 23-25 at Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in National Harbor, Md., attracted more than 2,000 meeting and hospitality event professionals to learn, network and demonstrate the truth behind the event’s theme, the “Power of Purpose” (PoP).

The event, organized by PCMA and Destinations International, was designed specifically to show the world that when people gather with purpose, the results can enrich the economic, social and intellectual life of both individuals and communities.

It is especially important to reaffirm this basic tenet of meetings and events after two years of COVID-related disruptions to in-person events. As Sherrif Karamat, PCMA President and CEO, said, “It’s time to restore what has been lost these last two years and build a pathway forward.” He added that PCMA and Destinations International have had this event in the works since 2019, with the goal of bringing business events strategists and destination representatives together to showcase how “The power of purpose begins with all of us,” said Karamat.

Kicking off the event was Destination International’s Convention Sales & Services Summit, with drew 170 participants to engage in panel and small-group discussions on how to make events more inclusive. The week’s events also included the Events Industry Council’s (EIC) hybrid Equity Task Force workshop, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ (IAEE) Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF), and the PCMA Foundation’s 2022 Visionary Awards.

IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA, said that the WLF brought 184 female industry professionals to the Gaylord to gain inspiration, knowledge, strategies and tools they can use to get ahead in life and business, as well as successfully navigate their way through disruptions and times of change “The Business Events Industry Week was a true testament to the power of collaboration,” he said. “I applaud those who worked tirelessly to bring this event together.”

The Destination Showcase, co-produced by PCMA and Destination International, drew 540 planner and supplier participants to learn, network and be inspired by a keynote by The Purpose Institute’s Co-founder and CEO Roy Spence.

Closing out the week was the PCMA Foundation’s Visionary Awards. Among those honored was Chris Wehking, who was the 2014 PCMA Board of Director Chairman and the 2019 PCMA Foundation Lifetime Achievement honoree. The Foundation announced at the event that it has established an education scholarship fund — more than $128,000 has been raised to support it — in Wehking’s name.

Business Events Industry Week

Also honored at the PCMA Foundation event on March 25 were the 2021 and 2022 LifetimeAchievement Honorees: Ben Goedegebuure, Enterprise Vice President, Global & Industry Presence, Maritz Global Events (Business Events Strategist for 2021); Mary Pat Heftman, Vice Chair, Exhibitions Winsight Media (Business Events Strategist); Kitty Ratcliffe, President, Explore St. Louis (Supplier); and Dr. Eric D. Olson, Chair of the Rita & Navin Dimond Department, School of Hospitality, Metropolitan State University of Denver (Educator).

Diversity and inclusion was one of the purposes with power that was highlighted during the three-day event. In addition to honoring Melissa Cherry, Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President, Miles Partnership, with the PCMA Foundation’s Groundbreaker award during the Foundation event for her work to advance her organization’s work to advance inclusion and equity, the LGBT MPA (Meeting Professionals Association) was included as part of critical learning at 2022 Destination Showcase along with other prestigious industry organizations, said Gary Murakami, CMP, CMM, DES, Vice President of Sales and Industry Relations for Teneo Hospitality Group. Murakami, who also is the vice chair of the LGBT MPA Board of Directors, emphasized that “business events are an important catalyst and conduit for social change.”

The D.C. area will get even more action from the meetings and events industry on April 7, the date of this year’s Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID). To recognize the importance of the industry, planners and suppliers from around the world will gather in D.C. to promote the business and economic value of in-person events, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences and conventions. Meeting Professionals International also will hold a 12-hour digital broadcast featuring educational sessions and panel discussions.

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