There’s a lot to celebrate in April, according to this list of offbeat holidays—Humor, Guitars, Poetry, Honesty, Pecans, Scrabble, Tweed, my birthday, Passover—but I would be remiss if I didn’t add National Meetings Industry Month to the list.
My friend Shawna Suckow, founder of SPIN and The Hive Network—taking cue from our meeting planning colleagues in Canada who have been celebrating the industry in April for the last 20 years— declared the first U.S. celebration in April 2013. Branches of SPIN held lighthearted “Cupcake Wars” across the country, bringing together planners to celebrate the hard work we do as meeting professionals.
This year, the tradition continues within SPIN branches nationwide, but Shawna wants us to take it further. She said, “Nothing would be more gratifying than to see the celebration to become an industry-wide effort.” I agree wholeheartedly. The industry should have an annual celebration recognizing our contribution to the world economy. We change lives through education, networking opportunities and celebration, and that should be acknowledged.
As I mentioned, Canada already celebrates National Meetings Industry Day, April 10. In a 2013 letter to Meeting Professionals International, the Canadian Prime Minister of Ottawa wrote, “This special day of activities offers a wonderful chance to raise the profile of your industry and to underscore the many benefits it creates. Business meetings and events are an important generator of revenue and ideas, bringing diverse people together to share knowledge and enhancing the quality of life of the communities in which they take place.”
And, there is not question our industry should be applauded. In an update to a 2009 Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy report released by the Convention Industry Council, data reveals that in 2012 the meetings, exhibitions and events industry provided nearly 1.8 million jobs, generated $115 billion in revenue and contributed $28 billion in federal, state and local taxes to fund and support communities across the country. Importantly, not only does our industry contribute significant financial resources to the business world, but it also provides historic opportunities for change. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, the signing of the Constitution and the Woodstock Music Festival were meetings and events of legendary import.
How will you celebrate your career and your industry? Here are some ideas that Shawna provided:
- Do something this month to celebrate. Have a cocktail with industry friends, throw a party, attend an industry event.
- Spend the (rest of the) month talking about what you do. Help your clients, bosses, parents, friends and colleagues understand the real value you bring to them.
- Tell others in the industry about National Meetings Industry Month and help the grassroots efforts.
- Write your Representative asking them to declare the month (or a day) official in your state. For sample verbiage, check out this letter Shawna did.
I usually keep April celebrations strictly focused on my birthday, but as a meeting and event planner for more than 22 years, I could not be more proud to be a part of a community of professionals who help others celebrate and thrive. It is a great honor to share this month in order to celebrate what I love to do.