5 Ways DMOs Can Do Better for DEI in the Meetings Industry

March 21, 2023
Multiethnic coworkers working on marketing strategy on laptop.

After DCI’s successful roundtable with Questex Travel & Hospitality Group, the challenges to DEI in the meetings industry are clear. Meeting professionals and destinations leaders joined in February 2023 to discuss the business events industry’s needs to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for everyone involved. 

While the challenges remain, the solutions emanating from the roundtable offer hope that the meetings industry is committed to advancing DEI efforts.

Leaders from DMOs representing Bermuda, London, the Netherlands, and Sydney joined meetings industry professionals including directors of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals, the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association, East West Connection Inc., Canvas Meetings & Incentives, and Streamlinevents. Together, they pitched and workshopped ideas that could become long-term changes to issues of equity and representation facing destinations and meeting planners alike.

These five propositions are ways for destinations and convention bureaus to do better, and are hopefully seeds that will root into solutions for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive meetings industry.

1. Put DEI Into Terms Everyone Understands
One thing the panel agreed on was that increasing representation and outreach to underrepresented groups makes financial sense. While first and foremost the right thing to do, embracing and lifting up these groups also helps bring bookings to destinations when these same groups hold events.

Destinations need to be sure that conversations about DEI also include conversations about the money left on the table when leadership ignores efforts to engage in more DEI. By putting DEI efforts into terms that everyone understands – financial ones – meeting industry workers can drive home to leadership the need for more dedication to DEI.

2. Develop New KPIs for DEI in Meetings Industry
While the panel continued to discuss the need to increase diversity efforts and commit to increasing diversity and inclusion, one question remained: how do convention bureaus measure success in these areas?

Conversations ensued about developing new KPIs to help the meeting industry better substantiate its commitment to DEI. Among the proposals are developing KPIs related to social impact to help measure and demonstrate the power of diversity in events. Moving forward, each destination and convention bureau will have its own KPIs, but creating more relevant measurements will be indispensable to maintain a commitment to DEI.

3. Amplify Diverse Voices Beyond DEI in Meetings
A straightforward way that the meeting industry can better its DEI efforts is to bring in diverse speakers at events. Participants agreed, however, that the meetings industry needs to invite diverse individuals to do more than speak about DEI.

Rather than highlight diverse voices uniquely in a DEI light, destinations need to find, engage, and put forward speakers to speak about all sorts of topics to ensure that they aren’t pigeonholed into one theme. While someone’s race, gender, sexuality, or ability is part of their identity, it is not the only thing that they are qualified to speak about.

4. Promote Diverse Businesses
In the same vein, amplifying voices among destination’s partners is equally as important. Meeting planners are increasingly intentional with bookings by looking to work with more diverse suppliers. Destinations need to recognize this and help the meetings industry identify those businesses in their communities.

Roundtable participants discussed the need to create a list of diversity-driven businesses in a destination, to give meeting planners a convenient resource when considering your destination. Buyers are demanding that DMOs provide more diverse suppliers, and providing access to local businesses is a powerful way to help meet their needs.

5. Create DEI Certification for Partners
Another way to help DMOs and convention bureaus create a more equitable meetings industry is to build DEI-certification for businesses, to help identify companies that support DEI in practice, and not just with words. While certain certifications exist, participants stressed the need for one that isn’t driven by profit, recalling instead the certifications that many destinations developed during the pandemic to underscore commitments to hygienic practices in the hospitality business.

By having a destination create a certification for its partners, it will not only make it easier for meeting planners to identify DEI-driven destinations, but it will stimulate partners and local businesses to engage more actively in the cause.

Above all, it’s important to remember that there are no one-size fits all solutions for supporting DEI in meetings and business events. Every destination is different and inclusion challenges are constantly evolving. Destinations and convention bureaus must, above all, incorporate DEI into their every day practice and reevaluate their work constantly to ensure they stay top of mind for meeting planners moving forward.

Curious how your DEI efforts stack up in today’s meetings industry? DCI is your partner for evaluating and reimagining your approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Contact Pamela Laite at [email protected] to get in touch and learn more about how our agency can help your destination’s business events division shine its brightest.

Written by

Nkechi Mitchell

Project Manager, Digital