PCMA invests in members’ employability throughout crisis

Recognising that upskilling and reskilling have become critical conditions for business events professionals to get through the current downturn and well into the altered future of corporate gatherings in a post-Covid-19 world, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) has expanded its support for members’ education.

In an interview with TTGassociations, Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO of PCMA, revealed that the association of 7,000 global business events strategists has provided almost US$1 million in scholarships to help members in 2020.

PCMA’s Sherrif Karamat says the crisis is resulting in innovation and expanded skill sets among business events strategists

That effort will continue this year through a commitment by chairman Stuart Ruff-Lyon to provide complimentary membership as well as free access to all PCMA online and offline events to members who have been displaced as a result of the travel and tourism crisis that has also impacted the business events industry.

“We also have various communities online that support and mentor (displaced members) so that they can get back into the workforce,” added Karamat.

Since the disruption of business events in early 2020, PCMA has held more than 150 community conversations around the world, mostly for small, targeted groups of 40 to 50 people, but also some larger ones for 300. Karamat said these conversations brought people together to address critical concerns and help them navigate “this challenging period that none of us, no matter what region we are from, has ever experienced in our lifetime”.

Karamat regarded the growing need for upskilling and reskilling as an opportunity presented by the crisis, as industry professionals will now acquire new capabilities to operate in an omni-channel environment – a reality of business events today as they evolve into online and offline hybrid formats to remain accessible to a global audience that is hampered by travel restrictions.

Noting that crises force one to innovate and work at solutions, Karamat said another opportunity borne from the pandemic was the creation of different business models that are operable even when scale and profitability are different.

When asked what the different geographical regions could learn from each other to revive business events, Karamat said the world could reference Asia-Pacific, which “is coming out from this crisis faster than the rest of the world”.

“(We need) solutions that are local before they (are customised and adapted to) become national, regional and international,” he said.

He also underlined the need for more research on the demand side, as better understanding of business events demand will enable it to grow and in turn benefit the suppliers.

While he expects the business events industry to “continue to be challenged in 2021”, he also believes that the vaccine programmes will bring hope for tomorrow.

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