Dealing with the Impact of Increased Government Regulations

Government Regulation

Over the last few years it has become all too common to hear about government meetings being cancelled or fewer and fewer government employees actually attending the event. Given this environment, many meeting professionals find themselves wondering if there will ever be good news on this horizon, not just for those us of in this industry, but for the collaborators, scientists and policy makers that leverage face-to-face interactions to strengthen their programs and research.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently issued regulations that impact Federal agencies’ travel budgets through 2016 by requiring a minimum of a 30% reduction in travel spend. Since these regulations seem to indicate that the challenges surrounding government meetings and attendance will continue, it is important to strategize how best to plan, manage and execute government meetings so you can ensure you’re attracting the necessary audience. Here are some practical tips to consider:

  • Keep in mind that individual agencies issue their own guidelines and these might be more stringent than those issued by OMB.
  • If government attendance is essential to your meeting, consider holding it within 50 miles of the targeted attendance.
  • Offer a reduced registration rate for Federal attendees, such as something that includes technical sessions only. In some cases, Federal attendees have had to exclude food and beverage functions from the registration rate.
  • Consider changes to the agenda, such as fewer but longer days, to reduce the sleeping room costs for attendees.
  • A government-rated hotel room block is important to any meeting trying to attract Federal attendance. Also consider drafting text that specifically targets government employees by explaining the essential nature of the meeting and how attending this event will help them further the agency’s agenda and overall mission and if possible, how it will save the agency money.

The meetings industry, led in part by the U.S. Travel Association through its Meetings Mean Business Campaign, is promoting what those immersed in the industry already know: Meetings are an essential component for a successful business, as well as an invaluable stimulator of the U.S. economy.  It is important that we, as meeting professionals, take the lead in educating key stakeholders on how to continue to attract, engage and include Federal attendees in the essential and unique business, education and networking opportunities that occur at events.

Lauren Deaton is a Strategic Account Director at Courtesy Associates, a subsidiary of SmithBucklin. She has over 10 years of experience in the meetings and events industry, and focuses on bringing innovative and strategic management to all aspects of the meeting process. Her clients include the Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy Division of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense HIV/Prevention Program, NIH Fogarty International Center, the U.S. Department of State and NIH National Cancer Institute.

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