In 2019, the event industry had a valuation of $1,135.4 billion, which positions the event industry well to have an economic impact if planners support social movements such as boycotts. But should event planners boycott?

In this episode of Event Brew, the entire Brew crew shares their thoughts on planners and organizations boycotting venues, hotels, destinations, and more. Should planners have a say in event boycotts? Do boycotts have any effect? Let’s figure it out.

Should planners boycott?

Boycotting cities, states and entire localities is a one-way street that event planners can boycott. You can also boycott certain locations, hotels or businesses. Deanna believes boycotting locations can have more impact, for better or for worse, because they have an impact on the local economy. So she starts with a simple question for the bridal crew: “should planners boycott venues, either for personal or organizational reasons?”

Will first points to a previous boycott he experienced in Arizona. “SB 1070 was a matter that happened at the beginning of my career, I was a DJ company at that time. He says: “I was about to become a production company. I bet there were a lot of big bands that didn’t come in, so we didn’t get the product dollars, but there were other events. I tried not to think about it like, ‘this is going to change my business.’”

He continues: “I wonder if SB 1070 had a different effect, because what is happening now are many boycotts for entire states that have similar beliefs. They boycotted several places. This article on PCMA said: “We encourage dialogue, not boycott. Does my group that doesn’t show up really have an impact on the bigger issues that need to be resolved?”

Nick thinks so. “It’s economic pressure. We bring people together, network, exchange ideas and share ideas,” he says. “As an organizer, I don’t think it’s about your politics. It’s about their communities. I would be transparent. I think planners make decisions based on their feelings and what they think is best for their community, rather than giving their community a voice and participating in it.”

Active decision-making or boycott: what’s the difference?

Deanna takes us to the next topic by asking Thuy’s thoughts. “Should planners have conversations about their location and destination decisions?”she asks.

“It is important that it is not about the morals and values of the planner, but about the companies,” says Thuy. “When I design an event, I think about what is important to you. What are they?

Where are you? Is that a good fit? If you as a company want to boycott a destination or location, then I say: do it. Who has time for dialogue? You can be open-minded when you get in touch. But do I really want to take my time or can I take my time to listen to the opinions of destinations that I will not choose because they do not correspond to our values?”she closes.

Will distinguishes between the active decision not to book a venue and the active boycott of that venue. Their boycott means nothing unless they do it in protest. For example, I can opposite if I go to work today and just don’t show up. But this is not a protest, it would send a signal that I am too lazy to come to work today. I think it must be a visceral explanation in some way.”

For Nick, the community is the most important thing. “The real difference you can make is not what you do, but the example you set that inspires others. That’s what creates a movement. It becomes a little more impactful and community-oriented when your actions inspire the actions of others, ” he says. “I think the question is, does it make sense to deal with these people? I don’t know how you do it. Is there an ultimatum you could give to bring about change? Is the only change you can make an economic signaling and potential PR noise? For me, this is probably the only real chance you could have.”

Will a boycott promote change?

For some, the impact of a boycott stems from the personal influence they exert on a business or destination. For others, it’s about the community power they create, no matter how significant their impact. But no matter how your organization handles a boycott, the brewing team wants to know: will it have any impact at all?

“I think it’s about the size,” Will says. “If your event is small and you boycott a venue, there is a possibility that there is another event actively trying to go there. But if San Diego Comic-Con, for example, says we’re not doing our event in San Diego because of the x-law, that could actually have an effect. But I think most people plan events that won’t have a big impact.”

Nick has a different point of view. “I think the implications of this decision are less about the crippling x-law, but about principled steps that inspire others. If it is a major problem, there must be a degree of transparency within the organization so that there is actual ownership over it. I think a lot of decisions are made in back rooms and organizations don’t take participants because they’re afraid to ask for an answer,” explains Nick. “When making fundamental decisions, you have to involve the entire organization. An internal dialogue focuses on the core of what groups, communities and organizations like these do, which is to gather people around common values.”

“Are we actively communicating our decisions to these people so they know they are losing revenue? ask Deanna. If you use your events for change and create dialogue, are you purposeful and intentional in doing so? Are you adding ways for people to donate to charities that support their mission and goals, even if it goes against the laws currently in place? Do we create those moments where we not only have a topic of conversation for our managers, but also actually illuminate, inspire and activate changes in the important things? How you answer these questions as an event planner and organizer will help you determine if your actions will ultimately bring about change.

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