Nurturing what’s best in the human experience.

Like just about everyone I talk to lately, I am craving human contact. In fact, I am craving the jostling sidewalk crowds and weekend market throngs that used to annoy me. I want to rub shoulders with people. I want to watch tour groups move like a school of fish through Fisherman’s Wharf. I want the joy of discovering an old friend at a capacity-crowd concert.

It’s while I was thinking about this that a light came on in my head. Yes, safety comes first. Yes, we need to do our part to flatten the curve and give our healthcare system a chance to get on top of this pandemic. But I realized that the very things that I miss most about personal face-to-face interaction are the very things that make the live-events industry unique, valuable and irreplaceable. And I wonder how many people understand the extent to which the events industry is part of the fabric of America — and of the world. I wonder if they realize that the hospitality and travel industries they worry about are actually a subset of the live events industry.

Our conferences, trade shows and exhibitions serve as incubators for nurturing what’s best in the human experience. In this sense, our events are a catalyst for so much…

  • education
  • commerce
  • industrial progress
  • humanitarian progress
  • intellectual development
  • innovation
  • connection
  • collaboration
  • inspiration
  • fellowship
  • ceremony
  • celebration

I’m sure you can add to this list. And the beautiful thing is, these things are possible at a live gathering both because of and in spite of the designed programming and content. The human experience blossoms in peripheral contact with like-minded individuals who bring new perspectives that provoke unexpected connections. And when enough people start connecting the dots at these events, the picture they reveal can inspire seismic change.

This helps explain why live events have historically served as the incubator for so many tech start-ups — scrappy innovators that grew to become Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. Without the incubator of tech events, they would never have found the interest, support and momentum that new ideas need to thrive. And when we consider that this is equally true for medical breakthroughs, food technology, manufacturing, and every other business and educational sector, we begin to appreciate how critical this human connection is to universal progress — in every field, benefiting all humankind.

I worry that, right now, potential breakthroughs in a variety of areas are languishing because, thanks to the pandemic, our social incubators are unplugged. And it’s why so many of us are advocating for swift measures to get the industry back up and running as soon as possible. This is bigger than the three million workers who were directly employed in the events industry before the pandemic hit. It’s bigger than the 1.6 million companies (80 percent of them with fewer than 500 employees) who exhibit and transact business at trade shows.

It’s as big as the human experience and our potential to create positive change. It’s as urgent as finding a preventive measure for the next global catastrophe. It’s as vital as building a better world for future generations.

#EventsImpact ­­— it’s where solutions are discovered.