My Meetings and Events Industry Wish List for 2019

Happy 2019 everyone! I decided to break tradition and, instead my predictions for 2019, I've elected to share three wishes for 2019 based on three major issues affecting our industry.

 1. Data Privacy Protection. With the influx of personal data hacks, malware, phishing and a plethora of nefarious schemes to gain access to personal data, I wish that our industry would take more responsibility with regards to safeguarding client, attendee and employee data. The European Union is so much further ahead with regulated standards under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May 2018. Planners, meetings management companies, suppliers, associations and more should all do their part to consistently safeguard and protect personal data. If you've ever been a victim of identity fraud, spoofing or other crimes, you personally know what a tremendous hassle, not to mention lost time and cost, it is to get your good credit standing back, as well as to recover any financial losses. Let's commit to being more aware, proactive and consistent with regard to data-privacy protection in 2019.
2. Duty of Care and Risk Management. Just like data privacy and GDPR, my wish is that our industry would also be more consistent with regards to owning and prioritizing the safety and well-being of attendees, clients, employees and others. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that we not only create the appropriate emergency planning, but that we practice and test the efficacy of those plans. Hiring and partnering with the right risk-management suppliers can provide a comprehensive strategy and emergency contingency plans to save lives. Why wouldn't you conduct a vigorous risk assessment before locking in a destination and venue? Don't take for granted that the venue is adequately staffed to handle on-site situations; augment the security head count if necessary. Be proactive in communications before, during and after the event on how people can stay safe and who to contact in any emergency. The bottom line is this: If something goes wrong, how confident are you today that you have all your bases covered and that all the people who are part of your risk-management plans know what their roles are and what they should be doing? 
3. Diversity in our Industry, especially in leadership roles. I am constantly amazed that in a female-dominated industry like ours, the majority of senior leadership roles and board positions are still mostly occupied by males. We've made good progress over the years, but there's still a long way to go toward gender parity, especially when it comes to equal pay. And we are still lacking when it comes to creating and providing opportunities and career paths for ethnic minorities – Asian, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans and others, plus the LGBTQ members of our industry. To be fair, both MPI and PCMA have initiated various initiatives to support membership diversity and inclusion, which is a great start, but there is much more to be done. My wish would be that our industry stalwarts would fund an independent study about how the lack of diversity, gender parity and inclusion, especially at the C and board levels, negatively impact the meetings and events realm. Our efforts for better diversification must have a solid foundation based on research and reporting. How many years did it take for us to fund studies about the actual size of our industry and what impact it has on the country's GDP?

In closing, I hope that my 2019 wish list takes root and rallies us around these three important areas. It would say a lot about who we are as an industry and what legacy we leave to the next generations.
Kevin Iwamoto is senior vice president at GoldSpring Consulting. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinIwamoto. Find him on Amazon here.