For business tourism to recover, society must recover first

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For business tourism to recover, society must recover first

By Genevieve Leclerc, Co-founder and CEO of  #MEET4IMPACT

LONG THINKER PANEL

By Genevieve Leclerc, Co-founder and CEO of  #MEET4IMPACT

 

While the present sanitary crisis has indeed been a devastating tsunami for business events worldwide, this new era has also catalysed an emerging shift in the form of new bridges being built between our industry and the wider urban ecosystem.

 

Pivoting to community service

As early as February, actors of the business events industry all over the world have leveraged their human, material and technical assets and pivoted their activities towards serving their community. Such initiatives have included the highly mediatised conversions of Convention centres into field hospitals or alternate care sites; the leveraging of supplier networks, procurement & logistics expertise to coordinate the sourcing, storage and transport of personal protective equipment for health authorities; and also, the coordination of large-scale food drives for the community.

 

Building on existing purpose and legacy

By their quick and purposeful actions, these organisations have responded to a short-term need but have also activated latent, so-called “pregnant” legacies.  Indeed, while these organisations needed to demonstrate timely agility in order to quickly repurpose their infrastructure,  it is also clearly apparent that pre-existing factors facilitated the implementation of such initiatives and were crucial in enabling a successful pivot: an organisational culture already sensitised to positioning business tourism as a generator of social value; relationships and previous collaborations with community organisations; tested processes for innovation and experimentation; and a history of delivering purposeful legacies.

 

Pre-existing factors facilitated the implementation of such initiatives and were crucial in enabling a successful pivot:

 

Strengthening ties with societal impact

Most of all, their actions in times of crisis have instilled a sense of shared reality between these organisation and residents, have strengthened the social fabric and delivered on community needs and expectations. Redesigning the dialogue and relationships between business events actors, residents, governments can be a powerful tool. It will yield observable societal impacts for years to come.

 

Looking both inward and outward

While the examples cited above are fostering hope for a new tomorrow, it became apparent when we analysed the different initiatives that were mediatised that most community-centered efforts could in fact be attributed to venues. Admittedly, a large portion of DMOs refocused their communications and some of their service offering towards residents. But their narrative was mostly still centered around the promotion of the destination and its assets. And very few explicitly demonstrated a strong intention towards true impact. One hopes that DMOs will find their own voice through their recovery strategies and develop a purposeful pathway to actively support social regeneration and generate a maximum of positive outcomes for their city’s various ecosystems.

 

One hopes that DMOs will find their own voice through their recovery strategies and develop a purposeful pathway

 

Going forward, DMOs and venues that purposefully develop a mindset of service to community, look ‘inward’ as much as ‘outward’ when future-proofing their new strategies, and foster an ongoing dialogue and close ties with community organisations and residents will be more successful in positioning themselves as essential drivers of not only the immediate recovery of their cities, but also their long-term resilience.

 

 

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#MEET4IMPACT is a non-profit organization aiming at changing the way we plan, measure and talk about the business events industry. #MEET4IMPACT empower organizations when it’s time to generate, measure and communicate the social impact of their activities and events.  #MEET4IMPACT’s team can either coach the organization from beginning to end in a societal impact journey, qualify professionals in the use of the societal impact approach or conceive a full library of resources and tools to equip managers about societal impact management.