Global DMC Partners, a network of independently owned destination management companies (DMCs) and event experts, has successfully concluded its seventh annual—and first virtual—Connection event. The group of nearly 400 attendees (including approximately 300 meeting planners, international and domestic DMCs) and the Global DMC Partners team convened online on November 9 and 10 to discuss current issues pertaining to the pandemic, identify ways for the industry to overcome challenges together as it rebounds, and experience unique virtual activities organized by GDP DMCs. The event was presented in partnership with Total Brand Experience (TBX), a virtual, hybrid and live strategic event management and production agency.
“Even though we greatly missed being able to speak with our clients and DMC Partners in person this year, our new virtual setting allowed us to connect with one another in a unique way,” said Global DMC Partners president and CEO, Catherine Chaulet, in a press release. “In addition to providing a platform for education and best-practice sharing, we gave attendees the chance to engage with one another and our DMCs through an array of global virtual experiences, such as learning yoga in Vienna or rediscovering inner happiness the Costa Rican way.”
Chaulet kicked off the event with a keynote address that highlighted valuable insights from Global DMC Partners’ most recent Meetings & Events Pulse Survey and the implications of the findings for MICE planners. There were 447 respondents from the meetings and events industry, with 90 percent being meeting planners. Key highlights of the findings included:
- Over 90 percent reported that some or all of their 2020 events have been postponed to 2021
- Nearly three-quarters of planners are moving their face-to-face events to virtual or hybrid in 2021; while most respondents predict that their face-to-face events will resume in the first half of 2021, many are planning to include a virtual option with their live event, indicating that 2021 will be a hybrid year
- Eighty-two percent believe a vaccine is the most important factor in bringing back face-to-face events
The conference agenda also included general sessions with a panel composed of industry leaders discussing the continued impact of the global pandemic on this trillion-dollar industry. Experts shared innovative strategies and ideas that MICE planners should consider as the industry continues to adapt and embrace more virtual and hybrid events as we head into 2021. Peer-to-peer breakout discussions provided a more intimate setting for meeting professionals to reconnect with one another and share best practices in today’s COVID-19 world. Discussion topics were determined by each group, and included best practices for virtual events and for hybrid/in-person events, contracting with vendors, new cancellation/force majeure terms, event technology, and creating unique attendee experiences in a virtual world.
Attendees also heard from several motivational speakers, including Lucy Bloom, an award-winning leader, businesswoman, consultant and author from Australia. An expert in how to do business differently, Bloom shared why fun should be a factor in strategic plans, why kindness and optimism feed the bottom line and how ordinary people do the extraordinary. Attendees were also encouraged to unleash their personal leadership power, courage and grit needed to take their lives to the next level by Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, a former United States Marine Corps officer who was the first African-American female naval aviator in the Marine Corps and the first African-American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Unique to this year’s conference were all-new virtual destination experiences presented by GDP’s DMC partners. These interactive online activities brought a taste of the respective destinations into participants’ homes while showcasing how DMCs are successfully pivoting for virtual and hybrid events. Highlights included a Parisian art tour, a yoga city tour through Vienna, a world-class illusionist from Budapest, live music from a Texas musician and song writer, samba and salsa dancing lessons from South America, Polish pierogi making, an undercover, at-home spy experience from Washington, D.C., and more.
Planners also had the opportunity to visit live with over 60 global DMCs and sponsors in the Connection Exhibit Hub. At each booth, attendees could learn more about each DMC and their destinations by viewing resources like destination overview videos and informational brochures. For those who wanted to connect even further, they could speak directly with each exhibitor through instant chat messaging or live video call.
Those who missed the event can view all education sessions and activities at the channel here. Those looking for virtual experiences for their 2021 programs can find ideas and inspiration from GDP’s offerings here.