In March, the U.S. State Department issued a wide-ranging travel alert,
informing U.S. citizens of the “potential risks of travel to and throughout
Europe.” De Jongh says this alert—together with a similar response from
Japan—contributed to the decline in the number of people attending conferences and events. The MPI Belgium Chapter event on Global Meetings
Industry Day (GMID) in April was crucial in mitigating some of that fallout.
“It was an event we’d been organizing for several months before the
attacks, and with the support of MPI headquarters in Dallas, plus other
European and American chapters, we decided to keep the event on and
used that platform to say, ‘We’re here, we’re standing strong and we want
to keep going,’” de Jongh says.
The chapter also engaged with the national tourism
association in Belgium, as well as Visit Flanders and others, to form alliances after the attacks, according to De
Jongh. “We wanted to start working together more and
wanted to find a way to put Belgium out there again. And
I felt that bringing us together and speaking with one voice
made us stronger.”
Today, de Jongh says there’s more of an emphasis on risk
management, more training in place for staff and an effort
by the industry to communicate to delegates and event organizers how seriously it takes security. “It’s no longer taboo,”
she says. “We’re all more aware of this topic, it’s in contracts,
and we discuss it automatically.”
Business has come back to Brussels faster than the tourist sector. “Leisure tourists don’t usually come back as quickly
as we’d like after something like that,” de Jongh says. “But let’s
wait a few months to see what happens.” In March it’ll be one
year since the attacks. De Jongh hopes by then the industry as a
whole will be back to normal.
“CONTINUE TO CONNECT”
BY ALEX HANNAFORD
JUNE, PGS. 52-55
The Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security
Initiative (EMSSI) is a coalition led by the International Association
of Venue Managers, the International Association of Exhibitions and
Events and the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association, but two
dozen other industry groups have already aligned with the initiative as
supporting organizations, including MPI. For the latest developments
on the EMSSI, visit www.iavm.org/emssi.
The following is a representative look at mass
violence as it has intersected with the meeting
and travel industries this year.
• In the deadliest attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11,
2001, an armed Florida man entered the Pulse
nightclub in Orlando, killing 49. Motivation for
the massacre remains uncertain, but ISIL sympa-thies and/or hatred for the LGBTQ community
are believed to be the impetus.
• Four months prior to the Pulse nightclub
massacre, two patrons were killed during a
shooting at the Glitz Ultra Lounge in Orlando’s
tourist district. Ten others were injured and have
consulted with attorneys as to whether the club
had sufficient security.
• 32 innocent people were killed by ISIL at
Brussels Airport in Zaventem and the Maalbeek
metro station, wreaking havoc on the Belgian
meeting and event industry.
• The first suicide bombing in Germany could
have been much worse, but the despondent
attacker was denied entrance to the Ansbach
Open music festival. Instead, the explosive was
detonated outside of a wine bar, injuring 15.
• Allegedly inspired by ISIL to commit mass murder, a man drove a 19-ton cargo truck through
hundreds of innocent Bastille Day celebrants in
Nice, France, killing 86. The Nice Jazz Festival,
scheduled to begin less than 48 hours later, was
one of many events cancelled as a result.
• During a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas,
five law enforcement officers were shot and
killed by a lone gunman allegedly upset with
recent high-profile shootings by police officers
throughout the U.S.
The European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC)
in Copenhagen, Denmark, provides more than 30
professional education sessions to 400+ attendees
#EMEC16 generates 8.4 million impressions over
seven days through the end of the event
MPI Foundation’s Rendezvous at EMEC attracts 250
participants—33 percent more than last year
Going Local certificate course debuts at EMEC to teach
experienced planners how to infuse local influences into
the conference, F&B and content design of the event