Category Archives: Blog

House Members are STILL fighting for aid for the Live Events Industry

By Wendy E. Porter

Owner, Wendy Porter Events, LLC

Vice-Chair, Government Affairs, Live Events Coalition

March 18, 2022

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the $15 billion Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) as part of the COVID Relief Bill. And then on March 11, 2021, Congress passed the $1.2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), of which $360 billion was allocated to state and local governments to support COVID relief efforts, including for small business relief. I’m hearing from a lot of misguided people that my industry “must be okay” now. Well… not so fast. 

While the SVOG was very much needed to keep our small independent venues, like Minneapolis’ First Avenue, alive, it didn’t go far enough. It helped the small venues stay afloat by covering their operating losses, but it didn’t help support the every-day gig worker or small business owners, who create events at those venues. 

The ARPA funding theoretically pushed billions into small businesses in the Live Events Industry, but yet, most of that money never got where it was intended to go, as states had wide discretion on how to distribute the funds. According to a September 2021 survey by the Live Events Coalition, over 90% of small businesses in the Live Events Industry have been completely left out of aid from these packages.

And then people said, “Congress is not prioritizing the money correctly. There are people standing in food lines, and they give it to the arts with SVOG? Who cares about the arts! Why aren’t they giving more to restaurants, where people are REALLY in need?”

I’m here to tell you why you should care. About the Arts and all the rest of the Live Events Industry, in which I have been employed for the last 20 years of my career. These ARE the people who are really in need… I’d argue as much or more than any other industry. After all, there was no curbside pickup in Live Events. We were literally SHUT DOWN. For almost two years. And some of our segments (i.e. Corporate) and not really back yet. Corporate trade shows are just starting to be held in person again. My company has done one in-person trade show. In two years. And it happened last week.

The Live Events Industry is the biggest “unknown” industry in the US, annually representing a conservatively estimated nearly $1 TRILLION in direct spending. This industry includes ALL events where people gather that are professionally organized. That includes not only Arts/Theatre, but also Conferences, Trade Shows, Business Meetings, Weddings, Funerals, Graduations, Birthday & Anniversary Celebrations, Art & Music Festivals, Concerts, Music Tours, Parades, Fundraisers, Awards Galas, Inaugurations, Sporting Events… basically the entire fabric of our culture and society. 

Every single person in the US takes part in a professionally organized event at some point in their lives. We are the people in black behind the curtain. When we do our jobs right, you don’t know we are there. That is completely by design. It’s supposed to look effortless. And over the last two years, that’s really hurt us. No one seems to know we exist and how large the industry is. It’s beyond time to come out from the shadows.

According to the Live Events Coalition, 12 million people work in the Live Events Industry in the US, with hundreds of types of jobs represented across over 1 million small businesses. From event producers coordinating the entire event, to the truck drivers hauling the gear,10 million of these people were 100% unemployed due to no fault of their own and an additional two million were underemployed.

To put that in context, in November 2020, 22 million people were unemployed in the US. 45% of the unemployed were people FROM the Live Events Industry. These were the people who were standing in food lines and not able to pay their rent. And many of these people are still not back to work or have mountains of debt to overcome. Homes, cars and other assets have been sold. 401K’s, savings accounts and college funds wiped out. People have taken their lives. The COVID-19 impact on the workforce in the Live Events Industry has been severe and staggering.

This is about a HUGE industry of people that have not been cared for by our government when they were forced to stop working due to government mandates to stop the spread of a deadly disease. So yes, if you care about Restaurant workers, you should also care about Live Events Industry workers. We are all interconnected.  An event is at the epicenter. People drive to get to the event; they stay in hotels; they eat at restaurants; they shop. The ripple effect is massive. Make no mistake, events are a major economic driver across the globe, and our industry has been forgotten.

To give you a comparison, in 2018, the US Automotive Industry was a $545.4 billion industry. The Live Events Industry is nearly two times larger. The US Automotive Industry got a government bailout several years ago for mismanagement because they were “too big to fail.” We have not mismanaged our businesses, but yet, we are not being seen as having a need. We were the first to close. And we have been the last to reopen… with many events still not back on the calendar.

The Live Events Industry is part of the entire US ecosystem. From the food grown by the farmers that is served by caterers, to the power used by utility companies to light events up and create the sound… to the flowers grown for weddings, and the gas used by truckers to get gear from point A to point B. If you think this “doesn’t matter”, you are sorely mistaken and entirely missing the point.

Think of a big game of Jenga, where the pieces are all interconnected to create the tower. The pieces are slowly being pulled out. You take out too many of the pieces… the entire thing collapses. That is exactly what is at risk. The people in our industry are those Jenga pieces in our society. Stop thinking of this as just the Guthrie or just the Kennedy Center or just First Avenue. Think of the entire ecosystem impacted. It’s massive.

Are we still fighting? You bet we are! Why? Because our industry now has a 2-year hole to dig out of. We have all been in the same storm over the last two years. But some of us have been on yachts. Some of us have been paddling in canoes. And some of us have been drowning. We are the ones drowning. We are not asking to be made whole by Congress. We have never asked for that. We are asking for the same help afforded to other parts of our society during this crisis, which is still not over. We just need a lifeboat to help us weather this storm until it passes.

We have active legislation in the works, being championed by Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN). In fact, just yesterday, an article ran in Politico about a Letter to Speaker Pelosi and Chair DeLauro asking them to support an active bill to get more help for businesses in live events, gyms, restaurants not supported by the Restaurant Revitalization Act (RRA) because the funding ran out, and for other small businesses that have been left out of aid.

The Live Events Industry is also “too big to fail”, and it’s more than time for Congress to take appropriate action to support this vital industry in our US economy.

____________________________________________________________

Wendy Porter, a nationally award-winning event strategist, is the Chief Events Officer of Wendy Porter Events, LLC, based in Minneapolis, MN. She is the Founder/President for the Live Events Coalition Minnesota, the Vice-Chair of Government Affairs for the National Live Events Coalition, and she sits on the National Board of Directors of LEC. Over the last two years, Wendy’s advocacy for the Live Events Industry has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on CNBC and MPR, and in several local press outlets in Minnesota.

TheLive Events Coalition was established in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on the live events industry. LEC exists to provide advocacy, resources and a network that connects and supports all of the businesses, contractors and our workforce – the lifeblood of every event. To learn more: www.liveeventscoalition.org

AMP’s Summer Bash

The Association of Meeting Professionals (AMPs) is getting back  to what their members and the Industry wants…live events!  The much anticipated and long awaited Summer Bash was held on Tuesday, July 13 with 150+ participants. Held at the American Institute of Architects @aiaspecialevents it was a HOT event in more ways than one.  Although it was originally scheduled to be held outdoors, the heat was the driving factor in bringing the party indoors.  AIA provided a great live event space where attendees were spread out on two levels in an open atrium to allow for physical distancing if attendees felt more comfortable.

Going inside didn’t stop the fun of everyone being together and feeling comfortable to hug friends and colleagues and respecting those that wanted to maintain social distancing.

It was a great event that included music by Scott Kurt, food and beverage by Root and Stem .  A menu of summertime salads, sliders, cones and mini desserts, attendees cooled themselves down with light summer drinks.  We even offered an outdoor seating area where attendees could comfortably watch a cornhole competition!

Attendees came not only from the DMV but as far as California to participate in this annual event.  It was a much needed event as we slowly re-enter the live event space comfortably and safely.  For more information on AMPs, please contact info@ampsweb.org or visit:  https://ampsweb.org/

ASAE Board of Directors Announces Selection of Michelle Mason as Next President and CEO

June 1, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               

Association Forum CEO will Start on September 1, 2021 

WASHINGTON, DC— Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE, current President and CEO of the Chicago-based Association Forum, will become ASAE’s next President and CEO effective September 1, 2021, Stephen J. Caldeira, ASAE Board Chair and Co-Chair of the Search Committee, and President & CEO, Household & Commercial Products Association, Washington, DC, announced. She succeeds Susan Robertson, CAE.

“After a thorough and extensive search process, the Board of Directors has voted unanimously to name Michelle Mason as its next President and CEO. Throughout her career, Michelle has demonstrated a commitment to the association community and ASAE, and a proven ability to drive alignment and results in a complex, multi-stakeholder environment,” Caldeira said.

“Michelle is a strategic thinker, proven consensus builder, effective communicator, and fearless advocate. We are confident that Michelle is the right leader at the right time, who will bring visionary leadership to ASAE at a critical juncture in the association’s history,” added Caldeira.

“I am honored to build upon the successful foundation at ASAE. I look forward to collaborating with a dynamic board of directors and a dedicated staff team as we create an accessible, inclusive, and transformational community for members and industry. A heartfelt thank you to Susan Robertson for her leadership and paving the way for women in the industry,” said Mason.

Since March of 2020, Susan Robertson, the first woman to lead ASAE as President and CEO in its 100-year history, has been serving on an 18-month contract. She had previously served as Executive Vice President of ASAE and President of the ASAE Research Foundation.

“The ASAE community owes Susan a debt of gratitude for navigating the organization following the unfortunate death of longtime President and CEO John Graham IV, FASAE, CAE in January 2020 and COVID-19. Susan has served with distinction for over 20 years, and she helped the organization to shepherd all Centennial-related activities and a new strategic plan. We wish her all the very best, moving forward,” said Caldeira.

In addition to Caldeira, the CEO Search Committee included:     

  • Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM, Co-Chair, Search Committee and President & CEO, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Arlington, VA, and Chair-elect of ASAE, and Chair, ASAE Research Foundation.
  • Patricia V. Blake, FASAE, CAE, President & CEO, Heart Rhythm Society, Washington, DC, and Immediate Past Chair, ASAE.
  • Shawn E. Boynes, FASAE, CAE, Executive Director, American Association for Anatomy, Rockville, MD, and Past ASAE Board member.
  • Rita Chen-Fujisawa, MBA, CAE, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, California Association of Health Facilities, Sacramento, CA, and ASAE Board member.
  • Julie Coker, President & CEO, San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego, CA and ASAE member.
  • Michael Dominguez, CHSE, President & CEO, Associated Luxury Hotels International, Plano, TX, and ASAE Board member.
  • Thomas R. Kuhn, CAE, President, Edison Electric Institute, Washington, DC, and Past ASAE Board Chair.
  • Lynda J. Patterson, FASAE, CAE, President & Owner, AMPED, Madison, WI, and Past ASAE Board member and current member of the ASAE Business Services, Inc. Board.
  • Stefanie Reeves, MA, FASAE, CAE, Executive Director, Maryland Psychological Association, Columbia, MD, and ASAE Board member; and
  • Lakisha Ann Woods, CAE, President & CEO, National Institute of Building Sciences, Washington, DC, and Secretary-Treasurer, ASAE.

The search was led by Leslie Hortum, Keri Lindsay, and Ellen Pennow from Spencer Stuart. Hortum manages Spencer Stuart’s Washington, DC office and is a member of the firm’s Education, Nonprofit and Government Practice. Lindsay is based in the firm’s global headquarters in Chicago, IL and is a member of the firm’s Consumer/Hospitality & Leisure practice. Ellen Pennow is a member of the firm’s Education, Nonprofit and Government practice.

MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Vest, CAE, 202-626-2798, cvest@asaecenter.org

About ASAE

ASAE is a membership organization of more than 48,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Since it was established 100 years ago, its members have and continue to lead, manage, and work in or partner with organizations in more than a dozen association management disciplines, from executive management to finance to technology. With the support of the ASAE Research Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge, and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession and provides resources, education, ideas, and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. Visit ASAE at asaecenter.org.

IMEX announces a new reason to Smyle

The IMEX Group has partnered with award-winning creative agency Smyle to produce a series of digital activations for the global business events community leading up to IMEX America in November.

The full programme, which will run between May and September, will be announced next month.

The new concept is designed to give tangible business value to IMEX’s traditional buyer and supplier audiences who have now missed a year of face-to-face trade shows. It also aims to unlock fresh business opportunities and attract a new online audience.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, says: “Where 2020 was all about massive disruption and creativity in the face of chaos, in 2021 we’re focused on delivering digital experiences that generate business momentum and connections as we look towards IMEX America in November.

“Together with Smyle, and having learned huge lessons from PlanetIMEX, we’re planning a four-month activation with two clear advantages for the industry. First, it will be a time and a place for buyers and suppliers to build networks, nurture business leads and enjoy a sense of community and camaraderie. Second, for those who wish to use it this way, it will be a springboard for face-to-face engagement at IMEX America. Our partnership with Smyle, with their strong creative heritage, will enable us to deliver this ‘best of both worlds’ in a way that’s powerful, relevant and responsive to current business needs.”

Dominic Thomas-Smith, Managing Director of Smyle, adds: “We’re really excited to be working with the IMEX Group in building an all-new communications platform for event professionals globally. The boundaries of digital know no limits – we can’t wait to bring innovative thinking and a load of creativity to deliver engaging, interesting and rewarding experiences for all who participate.”

More details about the IMEX Group’s digital solutions will be announced next month.

IMEX America takes place 9 – 11 November at its new home of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

www.imexexhibitions.com

Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus Co-Chairs Klobuchar, Blunt Introduce Legislation to Drive Tourism Industry Across the Country

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, introduced legislation that will help improve the tourism industry across the country by studying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industry and identifying policy recommendations to assist struggling businesses. The Protecting Tourism in the United States Act builds upon Klobuchar and Blunt’s efforts to support the travel and tourism industry and workforce, including securing the reauthorization of Brand USA through 2027. Brand USA is a public-private partnership that enhances tourism and job creation across the country. The program, which was established under the bipartisan Travel Promotion Act of 2009, brings in millions of additional international visitors to the U.S. each year at zero cost to taxpayers.

This month, Klobuchar and Blunt, along with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), reintroduced bipartisan legislation to provide economic support for organizations involved in promoting and hosting tourism, travel, or other special events. The Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID–19 Pandemic (STEP) Act would modify existing Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant programs to provide direct support to the hard-hit tourism and travel industry to promote economic recovery and help increase public confidence as these industries look to reopen safely in the future. These programs help drive local economic development projects, develop new industries, build vital infrastructure, and enhance tourism and travel.

#PCMACL – Convening Leaders: Recovery, Discovery, Resiliency Heading into 2021

As a long time attendee of the PCMA Convening Leader’s annual January event, this year’s “virtual remake” Jan. 11-15 did not disappoint. Noted as the best way for participants to kick off the New Year, its traditional format of stellar education and networking was only slightly diminished by the lack of face-to-face interaction.

A total of 3,500 people from 36 countries registered to watch the content online through the Juno AI platform, interacted in The Kitchen conversations and as part of micro-communities and satellite gatherings keeping the level of engagement very high.

The event moved from its planned location in Houston to Singapore, with 19 official network partners hosting watch parties from United Arab Emirates, where 300 people joined the event, to a Marriott International gathering in Denver and a Hilton event in Dallas with 50 attendees each.

For those accustomed to the standard industry vernacular that we’re used to hearing from speakers, a new vocabulary surfaced as a result of the various education sessions highlighting the new virtual reality. Terms such as Gamification, Tik-Tok, Zoom Room, Fun Format, Bandwidth Considerations, and Twitch and Cyberpunk 2077 as streaming platforms (a.k.a. video games) are on track to become part of our professional conversations.

Counteracting these highly technological assemblies were opportunities to join wellness groups practicing Guided Meditation, Zen Yoga, and a Pranayama Breathing Session all sponsored by Puerto Rico. For the virtual side of this hybrid event, in person networking was replaced by chat rooms and scheduled groups for conversations highlighted by the opportunity to replace your facial expressions with those of various emoji’s when conversing online.

In conclusion, PCMA retained its reputation for soliciting a high level of involvement from the attendees. This was aided by the fact that the virtual format produced an enhanced number of global speakers as well as those participants able to attend due to the elimination of the travel component. It’s a testimony to the organizers that the energy of the audience was not diminished by the pivot to a hybrid event.

Sherrif Karamat, President & CEO of PCMA said face-to-face meetings are starting to come back…with full recovery in 2023. “Recovery is on its way, but we can’t expect to go back to what it was. We have changed, and we have to help people face that new reality.”

See you (hopefully in person) Jan. 9-12, 2022, when PCMA Convening Leaders brings its flagship education and networking event to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, be safe – innovate!

Conversations with Carina of IMEX Group

In the first of a series of catch-ups with our CEO, Carina Bauer, we set out our 12 commitments for 2021-2022 {well six of them at least) including the return to IRL, sparking joy and connection through micro experiences, nurturing innovation, embracing Nature+, living our diversity, equity and inclusion values, and cherishing analogue moments. We’ll be back with the next six next month.
Watch

Join Us for IMEX America in Las Vegas November 9-11, 2021

ConventionPlanit invites you to join the upcoming IMEX America hosted buyer group of our partners, Susan Sarfati and Liz Jackson.  Connect – Learn – Contract.  US and Canadian buyers of meeting location services will benefit from 2 days of a complimentary in-person trade show plus a full day of education earning certification points.  IMEX America will cover your coach air fare, hotel expense and Las Vegas airport shuttle service.  We’re hoping the world will be a safe environment by November and we can get back to work booking the events we have missed so much during the pandemic!  See you in Las Vegas! 

To RSVP:  Contact Liz Jackson ljackson262@msn.com 

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre Voted Malaysia’s Best Convention Centre!

The progressive purpose-built venue strengthens its market leadership position

KUALA LUMPUR, 24 November 2020 – The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre) was recently voted as Malaysia’s Best Convention Centre 2020 by leading travel and business events industry players in the inaugural World Mice AwardsTM 2020, retaining its market leadership position.

This recognition came on the back of another industry award, ICCA Best Marketing Award 2020 – Recognising Leadership in Transformation, earlier this month.

The Centre’s General Manager, Alan Pryor said, “We are truly delighted to receive this honour from World Mice AwardsTM. This reinforces our commitment to forge ahead in a spirit of positivity and resilience to progress business recovery and to remain our clients’ preferred business events partner. We regard this award as an encouragement amidst this very challenging year and as an inspiration to continue all our efforts as Malaysia’s leading venue. We would also like to congratulate our fellow winners, One World Hotel for Best MICE Hotel and MEvents for Best MICE Organiser.”

World’s leading MICE brands were selected and nominated in a year-long process followed by a period of voting by travel industry professionals and the public. The nominee gaining the most votes in a category was determined as the winner.

Pryor concluded, “We applaud World MICE Awards’ initiative to recognise the leaders of our industry. It is much needed to keep the industry’s morale up during such turbulent times and this programme has definitely succeeded in this regard.”

Aimed to raise the standards within the business events industry by recognising and rewarding organisations that are leaders in their field, World Mice AwardsTM was developed with a mission to serve as the definitive benchmark of excellence, and help foster a new era of growth, innovation and best practice on a global scale. World Mice AwardsTM is the sister event of World Travel AwardsTM which was launched in 1994.

For all the latest news, visit the Centre’s Newsroom at www.klccconventioncentre.com or follow on social media (Facebook – @klccconventioncentre, LinkedIn – Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Twitter – @klccconvention and Instagram – @klccconventioncentre).