Enough already. Not every corporate meeting or event is a boondoggle.
While I agree elected officials should not be sunning themselves in the Caribbean at the taxpayer’s expense, there is considerable value in face-to-face meetings. Meetings, events and travel can be strategic cost effective ways to retain and develop employee talent, build engagement, generate ideas, and share knowledge that drives business growth.
Unfortunately, because a few U.S. executives displayed incredibly poor judgment by hosting flashy gatherings while receiving federal bailout funds, our industry’s reputation has taken a significant hit. According to the U.S. Travel Association, meetings and events are responsible for 15 percent of all travel spending and generate more than 1 million jobs and nearly $40 billion in tax revenue. Yet the Labor Department reported a loss of 200,000 travel related jobs in 2008, and Commerce Department data predicts a loss of an additional 247,000 travel related jobs in 2009.
Today, the US. Travel Association, in cooperation with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and seven other industry associations, took a bold step to protect those of us in this industry. At a Washington, D.C. press conference, they issued a set of model practice guidelines in response to recent draft U.S. Treasury regulations on incentive, meeting and event expenditures. Rather than wait for the Government to impose guidelines, the USTA presented this model set of guidelines to serve as a best practice benchmark.
I urge my fellow meeting and event planners to visit the U.S. Travel Association’s website (www.ustravel.org.) become familiar with these guidelines, and consider their specific implications, if any, on your clients. This is your opportunity to provide your clients the benefit of your professional skill set with insights into this critical, high profile matter.
We must continually demonstrate the strategic value of meetings and events and help our clients make rational, responsible decisions. Forgive me one more metaphor, but we cannot stand by and allow our industry to become the sacrificial lamb of this recession. Meetings mean business. Let’s prove it.
— Carol Galle, CMP
President, Special D Events