The weeks of social distancing and teleworking have underscored what we always knew: face-to-face meetings are crucial to conducting business.

Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), led by the Meetings Mean Business coalition, is taking place virtually today. While it’s an unfortunate twist of irony that the annual celebration of in-person meetings is relegated to webcams, we must not pass up the opportunity to highlight the tremendous positive impact face-to-face meetings have on people, businesses and the economy. I know we all look forward to the moment when we can safely convene together.

So many of us have dealt with the frustrations of virtual meetings, whether it’s household distractions, spotty Wi-Fi, or that one person who can never seem to find the “mute” button on the conference call. While my Skype and Zoom skills have improved exponentially, we can all agree that there is no substitute for the personal connections forged during in-person meetings, or the productivity of a face-to-face collaboration.

In the U.S alone, meetings generated $845 billion in economic output and supported 5.9 million jobs in 2016. As the U.S. is expected to lose that exact number of jobs by the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic restricting travel, the meetings and events industry will be crucial in powering America’s eventual economic recovery.

Encouragingly, a study by APCO Insight prepared for the Meetings Mean Business Coalition found that an overwhelming majority—83% of Americans—miss attending meetings, conventions and trade shows. Humans thrive from in-person contact, when all senses are engaged. We get energized—igniting ideas, passions, and solving problems—when we meet face to face. Further, 78% of respondents plan to attend as many—if not more—meetings after the worst of the pandemic is passed and it is once again safe to gather in groups.

Until that day comes, our industry must stay strong and continue to support one another. Here’s some ideas from the Meetings Mean Business coalition on how our industry can band together and participate in GMID:

  • Participate in the 12-hour broadcast, “GMID Virtual,” hosted by Meeting Professionals International (MPI);
  • Join a first-of-its-kind, 90-minute webcast, “GMID Goes Virtual,” and help break the world record for the largest virtual meeting in history; and
  • Take action in your community and tell us about it at meetingsmeanbusiness.com/commit2community

The travel industry’s current situation is dire, but Americans’ eagerness to resume in-person meetings should provide a glimmer of hope during this difficult time. This industry is resilient, and I know we will come out of this stronger than ever.