In a world of tech options like teleconferencing and video chats, why do we still need meetings? Logging in for a webinar or live stream might be able to take the place of a presentation or a talk. But it will never take the place of being able to grab a coffee with an old colleague between sessions, the informal chat with the person sitting beside you at lunch, discussing the day’s developments over a glass of wine with someone you’ve just been introduced to, or stumbling upon a new product at a tradeshow.

Today is Global Meetings Industry Day, a day for us to shine a light on the industry that often stands in the background, but is the conduit by which most business actually gets done. When people meet face-to-face, they connect, share information, build relationships and trust, and make those deals. Research from Oxford Economics shows that business travellers are twice as likely to convert a prospect into a customer with an in-person meeting. 

If anyone was to take the technology route, you would think it would be the TED Conference. But when they meet in Vancouver each year, along with their famous 18-minute stage presentations, attendees also enjoy curated spaces for meet-ups, dinners, group yoga and other experiences. They even have their own TEDConnect app to help attendees meet each other. And it’s no surprise that another group we’ve recently hosted, the Professional Conference Management Association (PCMA), understands the power of meeting face-to-face. Their 2016 Convening Leaders meeting theme was “Cultivating Creative Moments,” helping meetings industry professionals design conferences that make the most of the having people meet face-to-face.

Here in Vancouver, the meetings industry is also an important economic driver, resulting in over $500 million in spin-off benefits for the local economy each year, and providing more than 6,000 jobs. Within Canada, business events are responsible for 1.5% of the country’s gross domestic profit (GDP). As ICCA’s top North American destination for international conferences, Vancouver companies and organizations benefit from having their peers meet in their city, giving them the opportunity to put themselves and their field on the world’s stage. Quite simply, as the Global Meetings Industry Day tagline states, “Meetings Mean Business,” and we’re very happy to be part of this important industry.

- Dave Gazley, Vice President, Meeting & Convention Sales, Tourism Vancouver