McVeigh Global Meetings and Events (MGME) was founded in 2018 when Fourth Wall Events, a 15-year-old event planning company, merged with Worldtek Events, a 10-year-old conferences business, to acquire McVeigh Associates, a 30-year-old meeting planning company. The combined business manages nearly 1,000 events a year worldwide through its offices in Manhattan, Long Island, and San Diego. The MGME team consists of more than 100 incredible professionals who handle every aspect of an event from sourcing to full meeting and event logistics, and value creating human connections for corporate clients and associations, globally.
The business focuses on several areas – pharmaceutical, telecommunications, cosmetics, business services, and technology are just some of the industries that make up the MGME client base. Services are provided to clinical trials, including patient management services, such as payment solutions, travel and logistics, communication, and registration. The company also creates virtual clinical patient experiences for recruiting new patients and working with existing ones.
Business View Magazine recently asked the McVeigh Global Meetings and Events team how they are adapting their business during the Covid-19 pandemic. The following highlights the company’s background and its innovative and evolving responses to this critical situation.
BVM: How has McVeigh Global Meetings and Events evolved since its founding?
MGME: “The business was initially started by Frank McVeigh in 1990 and quickly grew to be one of the 25 largest meeting planning companies in the industry. Jeff Guberman, the founder of Fourth Wall Events and current CEO of McVeigh Global Meetings and Events, initiated an acquisition of McVeigh Associates in 2017, in partnership with Infocommerce Partners, a Boston based private equity company. Together, they had the vision of combining all three companies and creating a dynamic powerhouse to the meetings and events world. The initial acquisition was challenging, but exciting, and created a company we are all proud to work at.
“The first year was devoted to combining the three companies and creating one team. We worked to set the team up for success and create new processes and service offerings. Because of this, we were poised for growth coming into our second year. Our sales team, led by Carvie Gillikin, was making fantastic progress. The next step was to bring in a senior finance leader, so we hired an outstanding CFO, Jennifer Filippone. She joined the team in January of 2020 and immediately made great strides in transforming our finances.
“At MGME, we believe in a very high touch-each-attendee experience with a creative, strategic approach. Our passion is understanding our clients‘ goals and creating engagement strategies to meet these goals. We believe that when you bring people together for a shared experience, great things happen.”
Challenge in the Industry
BVM: What do you do when your entire industry isn’t allowed to exist for the foreseeable future? How do you pivot and continue to provide value to clients?
MGME: “We believe that live events are completely unique – they connect people in a way that nothing else can. When each of us leaves a live event, we feel energized, engaged, and connected to a community. In mid-February, we became concerned about Covid-19 and its impact on the world and the events industry. We made it through SARS, Swine flu, and the Avian flu with minimal effect. Initially, we thought this would be similar. Then the cancellations began to pour in. We consulted our clients on the appropriate response for their specific events. On a case by case basis, we advised that some cancel, others postpone, and others transition to virtual. Internally, we were terrified at what this would mean.
“Not knowing what this meant for us, we went into survival mode. Would there be any revenue for the rest of the year? What about next year? What we had spent so long building, what was on the verge of achieving all our goals, was at risk. Our team quickly pulled together and we could not be prouder of our company’s selfless, dedicated professionals. We are a family and families pull together. Fortunately, we entered the crisis with a strong balance sheet and supportive partners who believed in us.
“Every day, we work with our clients to understand their goals and develop strategies to meet those goals. In the near term, a live event is not one of the solutions we propose. Instead, we have the ability to pivot and produce a variety of virtual events to solve many of our clients’ problems. One service we are very excited about is engaging guests at home, both virtually and physically, by sending them gift boxes to personalize the experience. Our energy has been refocused on assisting our clients with virtual events, planning live events for 2021, and helping our pharmaceutical clients with their patient services, both virtually and in person.”
BVM: How have you maintained your employees, vendors, and clients to ensure you are doing everything you can for your ‘community’?
MGME: “As we mentioned earlier, our team is our family. Our priority was to help our employees remain safe and secure. We were open with our team about the challenges ahead, and they rose to the challenge. Similar conversations were held with our clients. The message was consistent: we are hurt but we will survive. We will come into the post-Covid stage stronger than we entered it.
Constant communication is crucial to holding a team together. At MGME, we look out for each other, support each other and care about how each person is doing. This experience brought us closer together. Our people are our heart and soul. There has never been a time when this feeling is more important or more visible than now.”
BVM: What key moves have you made during the crisis that have given you leverage in your industry?
MGME: “We had three key priorities.
- Ensure survival
When the cancellations first began, we immediately took steps to tighten our belts. We conserved cash and planned for the future. Our partners were quickly brought into the conversation. Together we detailed plans for our success and created metrics to track our progress. Immediate changes were necessary, especially the painful ones.
- Find a new direction
Our team was brought into the conversation to brainstorm ideas for pivoting. Our virtual events team was quickly built to support our clients in this new world and to refocus on our patient services and clinical trials. We have developed a new marketing plan to speak to customers that need our services.
- Retrain and operate
We built the right team around each of our offerings, without hurting our existing one. Successfully, we created processes and best practices for this new world. This included developing a picture of what events will look like in the post-Covid world.
“There is no question, this is a frightening time. With a great team, flexible mindset, and aggressive approach, we can succeed in this environment!”