Optimism is in the Air

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Optimism is in the Air

By Rich Luna | Nov 5, 2020

It’s that time of the year—when the leaves turn to their radiant colors in the Northern Hemisphere, we bundle up a bit more when we venture outside and our minds drift to thoughts of family and special moments as the holidays are fast approaching.

There’s a much-needed sense of optimism in the air, too. Let’s call it guarded optimism, but the more than 630 members of our Business Research Panel who responded to our quarterly signature research, Meetings Outlook, indicated a sizable shift when asked to project business conditions over the next 12 months, suggesting a perception, at least, that the industry has or will soon be turning a corner.

More than 58 percent of respondents to our survey expect favorable business conditions over the next year, an increase from 36 percent favorable in the Summer 2020 report. About 34 percent of the respondents anticipate a negative landscape going forward, down from 59 percent negative last quarter.

That Summer report saw the most negative business projections in the history of the Meetings Outlook survey, so this latest data shows a bit of silver lining on a cloud that has been hovering above us since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

We’re starting to see glimmers of the return to face-to-face, with myriad business meetings taking place.

Those are just a few nuggets of positive news in a compelling report. There are still major concerns throughout, but to hear members suggest that the industry may soon turn the corner on recovery is encouraging given their views just three months ago.

Let me be clear. Tough times still await, as the majority of respondents (65 percent) believe business won’t return to pre-coronavirus levels until 2022 or 2023.

We’re starting to see glimmers of the return to face-to-face, with myriad business meetings taking place. We witnessed the first event at the new CAESARS FORUM in Las Vegas when ConferenceDirect held an in-person Annual Partner Meeting (APM) last month. We started this month with our own MPI World Education Congress (WEC) in Grapevine. In each case, and others that have taken place, health protocols have been the top priority for in-person attendees, while the events have also offered engagement via digital platforms for remote attendees.

This will not be just a trend going forward, as respondents to our Meetings Outlook survey also say that virtual is here to stay, so much so that 63 percent of respondents are concerned that the proliferation of virtual/hybrid events during the pandemic will permanently affect the desire for face-to-face gatherings in the future.

MPI Meetings Outlook: Growing optimism for 2021.

Having witnessed the APM event, previous gatherings organized by Associated Luxury Hotels International and WEC, all designed to show how to safely meet in person, it’s clear that face-to-face is essential to our industry, to our members and to growing our business.

There’s another report in this month’s issue that also gives me optimism about our future. MPI’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee was honored at WEC as the recipient of the 2020 Chair Award, presented by Steve O’Malley, chair of the MPI International Board of Directors (IBOD). The group’s accomplishments, as noted in our report, demonstrated a true commitment to this compelling social issue. Their focus on solutions and the impact and shortcomings related to diversity, inclusion and equity at MPI and within our industry were measured and on point.

We’re not there yet, but thanks to committee co-chairs Tanida Mullen and Zoe Moore, IBOD liaison John Ehlenfedt and the nearly two dozen members of the committee, we are inspired and optimistic about the future. They have put true meaning into the phrase “When We Meet, We Change the World.”

Be safe and healthy—and thank you for your membership.

Until next time…

Rich Luna
Editor in Chief



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.