April 9 2021

By Graeme Kemlo

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)’s Global Meetings Industry Day Debate for the APAC and EMEA regions posed a pressing pandemic-era question for the business events industry: is a vaccine passport a solution?

The virtual event’s three panelists, Lyn-Lewis Smith, CEO of BESydney, Sanjay Seth, Managing Director Asia Pacific of BCD Meetings & Events, and Ben Hainsworth, Managing Director of EASL – The Home of Hepatology, had a range of answers to this question.

It was “Yes”, “Hell Yes” and “No” from Lewis-Smith, Seth and Hainsworth respectively.

Teasing it out, all rated themselves as optimists, even Hainsworth, whose initial negative reaction was a shot over the bow of the industry warning that a vaccine passport alone could not reinvigorate the sector if it continued to offer the same value proposition in 2021/22 as it did back in 2019.

In the end, they seemed to be in furious agreement:  that the industry needed to be more agile, more resilient, needed some external perspective and could do with more generalists to help solve problems one chunk at a time.  Panelists also agreed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) should run any vaccine passport, although all expressed disappointment that the WHO seemed to be backing away from the idea.

The panel discussion was followed up with small virtual table discussions amongst the more than 100 attendees from around the world.

The main session was moderated by Oscar Cerezales, Global Executive President Corporate Division, MCI Group, who kept things moving, wanting short pithy answers and, towards the end, elicited from the assembled thought leaders suggestions on what to read, who to follow and what streamed series to watch.

Hopefully PCMA’s APAC Managing Director, Karen Bolinger, had the digital VCR set to ‘record’ and you can obtain a copy of the session.