PCMA and CEMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat, CAE, highlighted the growth and transformation of the global business events industry in a business keynote during Convening Leaders 2024 in San Diego, California. Emphasising the importance of thinking bigger and beyond traditional mandates post-pandemic, PCMA has expanded its event portfolio through acquisitions, partnerships, and new products to deliver a better experience for the global business events industry.

“By 2025, PCMA plans to connect with over 10,000 business event professionals at live events on four continents, with a global community exceeding 35,000 people,” said Sherrif Karamat. “We are thinking bigger, we are thinking bolder, and always aiming to be better – not because we can, but because we must, make our community’s world a better place.”

PCMA’s expansion and its commitment to sustainability were highlighted, along with updates to AI startup Spark, co-founded with Gevme, to enhance event productivity. Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney, joined Sherrif Karamat to address the gender disparity in leadership within the industry, proposing a coalition to advance women into senior roles. The session concluded with announcements of future initiatives, including the industry’s first Sustainability and Climate Summit in Barcelona and the inaugural Convening Latam in Bogota, Colombia, reflecting PCMA’s global influence and dedication to driving industry advancement.

Below is a summary of key announcements.

Sustainability and climate tech

In 2023, PCMA announced a partnership with the American Geophysical Union (AGU), which has since delivered multiple initiatives, including workshops, sessions, and approaches to strategy. PCMA appointed its first head of global sustainability and announced a partnership with the Strategic Alliance of National Convention Bureaux in Europe (SANCBE), representing 29 countries.

Through these partnerships and investments, the industry’s first Sustainability and Climate Summit will be held with Convening EMEA in Barcelona October 2–3, 2024.

Sherrif Karamat noted, “We will examine how today’s climate technology mitigates our environmental impact and opens doors to new efficiencies and opportunities in the world of business events.”

2024 will catalyse future editions, formats, and continued engagement with the global business events community. Further details will be available in the coming months, including the program, how to engage, and what to expect.

Advancing women in business events leadership

The PCMA Foundation and Business Events Sydney (BESydney) released the first of its two-part findings of a new global study into Advancing Women in Business Events. Last year, research was conducted to explore the pronounced gender gap in the global business events industry.

PCMA and BESydney believe that a diverse and inclusive leadership team is a strategic advantage and a fundamental necessity for the industry’s sustained success. By fostering an environment that values and promotes women’s unique perspectives and talents, both organisations aim to set a standard for excellence and innovation.

“Last year, the World Economic Forum predicted it would be 131 years until gender parity could be achieved globally. This is unacceptable, and as leaders of an industry with a strong female talent pool, we need to take collective and bold action to accelerate progress towards equitable leadership for all,” said Lyn Lewis Smith, Chief Executive Officer, BESydney. “Whether it’s diversity of gender, race, age, ability or cultural background, new and alternate perspectives are the backbone of innovation and good decision making. Diversity in Board and CEO leadership ranks isn’t just the right thing to do, and it makes good economic sense for our sector’s resilience globally.“

Part two of the report, scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2024, will present recommendations for actions that companies and individuals can implement to address the challenges outlined in the initial report released during Convening Leaders 2024. It also will present evidence for why women are ideally suited for leadership roles and why their leadership attributes and skills are critical to the success of the business events industry of the future.

For additional details and to download the report, visit The Advancing Women in the Business Events Industry Study Part I.

Spark AI updates

Launched in 2023, Spark is now the go-to AI productivity tool for nearly 5,000 event organisers in more than 40 countries. Convene magazine reported that 64 per cent of business event professionals use generative AI to manage their events. Corporations and organisations are now exploring how Spark can be integrated into their entire enterprise event operations.

Spark Takeaways is the latest enhancement to the Spark platform. Introduced during Convening Leaders 2024, Spark Takeaways analyses streaming content in real time, distils pivotal insights and summaries and generates Key Takeaways, Idea Cloud, and a comprehensive Summary from live sessions.

“The insights and ideas generated by Spark Takeaways are insightful and easily shareable,” said Veemal Gungadin, Gevme’s CEO. “This feature will amplify the reach of an event’s content and potentially make it go viral. Additionally, our commitment to inclusivity is evident in our multilingual capabilities. Participants can listen to a session in one language and access the takeaways in another.”

Spark Takeaways was available to all Convening Leaders 2024 participants at the end of the daily general sessions via a QR code on the mainstage screens.

During Business Events Industry Week (BEIW) in Washington, DC, Spark will host AgendAi, a workshop for event innovators and destination marketing technology trailblazers. It will clarify what’s real and what matters now at the intersection of AI and business events. AgendAi will help participants understand which part of their business can benefit from generative AI and craft their own AI-driven plans for productivity and performance with their business partners. Additional details will be available soon on the BEIW website.

Convening Latam 2025

PCMA will hold the inaugural Convening Latam, the gateway to reimagining the possibilities of what transformative economies can deliver in a united Latin America in Bogota, Colombia. May 4–7, 2025.

Convening Latam 2025 will provide the business events industry with a unique opportunity to be part of Latam’s transformative moment. Using AI within a collaborative community, participants will gain compelling insights from thought leaders on event design, sustainability, innovation, and audience engagement. Over the next few months, PCMA will share additional program updates.

“PCMA firmly believes in the pivotal role of business events in catalysing social and economic transformation,” said Sherrif Karamat. “In the dynamic landscape of Latam, these events serve as catalysts for an evolutionary shift, ingeniously reshaping and redefining regional challenges into boundless opportunities.”

Global PCMA event portfolio
PCMA’s global events portfolio is growing. By 2025, the organisation will connect with over 10,000 business event professionals at their live events on four continents. When you add in the people they engage with through courses, webinars, labs, and Chapter meetings, the PCMA global community exceeds 35,000.