Gregg Talley: Building Human Connections and Communities

Person holding a smart phone playing the Skift Meetings Podcast featuring Greg Talley

Skift Take

Gregg Talley, CEO of Talley Management Group, explains how events can help build a better world for everyone.

Not many can say they grew up in the events industry, but Gregg Talley can. He has been at it for more than four decades.

Gregg H. Talley is the chief executive officer of Talley Management Group, an association and event management firm that works with U.S. national global associations. Talley also has an affiliated association and event management firm in Africa. With a degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in International Relations, he utilizes those skills to manage and consult with national and international organizations and boards.

Talley has personally managed hundreds of events globally for associations, societies, corporations, and fraternal organizations. One of his largest convention events is the 50,000+ attendee International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous.

All in the Family

Talley’s father, who had been a 25-year employee of Mobil Oil, was contacted by a high school classmate who was publishing major medical journals. He was also tasked with managing their associations. This led to him starting one of the earliest association management companies, and Talley remembers dinner conversations focused on its inner workings.

“I started to get insights in high school about managing associations, and because they were major medical associations, they were also managing their meetings,” says Talley.

While attending college in Washington, D.C., whenever the company that had become the largest medical association management company in the country was running an event in town, Talley helped out. “I was running the floor, running signs, working registration, the exhibit floor,” he says. “That’s where I got my first real taste of the industry.”

The Value and Impact of Business Events

Meetings and conventions have a huge global impact, both economically and socially. Talley describes the industry’s evolution from contracts jotted down on the back of napkins to today when a 25-page contract for a small meeting is not unusual. Global business is one of Talley’s focuses. “There’s the U.S. model, European model, the rest of the world model that’s as different in Africa as it is in Malaysia,” he says.

Talley highlights the social impact of associations and events and advocates for transformational change, economic development, and social progress, particularly in underserved communities and regions.

One Voice

Talley expresses his frustration that the industry hasn’t come together to speak with one voice globally. “Our terminology is still all over the place around the globe. I recognize that’s a tough nut to crack, but MICE is still very prevalent in parts of the world and people don’t understand what that means. We haven’t all agreed on even the business events term globally,” says Talley.


The prevalence of AI is forcing companies to define why they exist, he says. “There is an existential threat to associations and, therefore, association events, unless we get ahead of it and start actively engaging in it from an event planning standpoint, but also from a content standpoint,” says Talley.

People are Attending Less Events

Attendees are more discerning about the events they attend. “What do we do as event owners and event planners to make sure our events are the ones they choose,” he asks.

What surprises him is that there is no more focus on event redesign with this fact in mind.

Data Mining

Talley believes the industry is not doing enough data mining to understand the audience and what they want. If we have the data, then we can build a better case to go to leadership and say, ‘We have to change this event.’”

Global Strategy

Talley sees one of the defining issues for the industry as being how the Global North and South are integrated. The need for a global pricing strategy to address disparities and promote inclusivity across different regions is discussed, reflecting the importance of equity in event planning.

Leadership qualities, including curiosity, accountability, and building human connections and communities, are important to Talley, as is fostering a culture of learning and innovation.