The morning after GMID 2016, it was “meetings mean breakfast” with Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer at MGM Resorts International and co-chair of the Meetings Means Business (MMB) coalition, at celebrity chef Michael Mina’s new Bardot Brasserie at ARIA Resort & Casino.

Just back from Austin, Texas, where he had joined co-panelists including MPI President & CEO Paul Van Deventer and PCMA COO Sherrif Karamat at the only GMID event held at a state or national capital, Dominguez spoke proudly of MMB’s “organic growth” since inception in 2009.

“We had over 100 events in 17 countries across North America, Europe, South Africa and South America,” he said.

With ICCA releasing “Meetings Mean Business” in 17 different languages, the #GMID16 hashtag garnered 28 million organic impressions, and 30 million total.

“We had 3.5 million total for North American Meetings Industry Day last year,” Dominguez said. “Twenty-eight million in one day tells you the impact and the community that was driving this yesterday.”

 Inspired by Canada’s National Meetings Industry Day (NMID), which was created 20 years ago by MPI’s Canadian chapters, MMB (the idea for which was sparked by Dominguez in 2009, as chair of MPI’s International Board of Directors) now counts more than 50 major tourism and hospitality companies as members—all with serious skin in the self-funded organization.

“The campaign is really taking off,” Dominguez said. “We are now the single voice and go-to advocacy group for the meetings industry.”

Backed by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Travel Association, whose President and CEO Roger Dow provides MMB with critical legislative support, the coalition continues to raise global awareness and shift perception of meetings not as boondoggles—as they were unfortunately labeled during the recession—but as a powerful engine of job and economic growth.

“Larger than the auto and airline industries, meetings have impact that is literally bigger than 70 percent of all industries,” Dominguez said. “As we advocate for the power of face-to-face meetings and the outcomes of bringing people together, one focus is involving more influential voices in the conversation.”

Key initiatives include the new Business Leaders Video Series. Launched in March 2016, the campaign began with Bill McDermott, CEO of global business software leader SAP.
“After telling us that SAP drives 40 percent of its entire revenue from its annual face-to-face SAPPHIRE NOW event, he has pledged to help us rally other CEOs around the cause,” Dominguez said. “Our mission this year is to get a dozen leaders, from outside the meetings industry, in print and on camera.”   

With “passionate and articulate” leaders that include Levi’s Brand President James Curleigh, Entertainment Software Association CEO Mike Gallagher and American Public Television President and CEO Cynthia Fenneman already on board, Dominguez said the mission remains “to connect the dots” on the importance of meetings.