On January 25, travel-related issues brought a temporary end to the partial government shutdown. How? The simple answer—the shutdown was affecting the performance of air travel.

As the government shutdown dragged into its second month, we became increasingly aware that the strain of missing pay placed on federal workers like the FAA air traffic controllers and TSA airport security screeners caused sickouts and disruptions in the air transport system.

[Meetings Today Podcast: Airport Travel Tips During the Government Shutdown]

We heard stories of people who could not afford the gas to get to and from work and those who could not pay for day care, forcing them to stay home from work.

The tipping point came when the federal government determined it could not afford the threat of the traveling public not getting from point A to point B.

Travel, Meetings and Face-to-Face Engagement

Meetings industry professionals know that transportation, particularly air travel, is the lifeblood of getting people together face to face. When we meet, we provide business objectives for advancing society by delivering adult education and job training.

Those same jobs in turn are a major tax generator that drive sales revenue and attract buyers. Travel is a very important component of the economy.

The shutdown was beginning to affect meetings:

  • Future planning.
  • Attendance.
  • Engagement between the public and private sector.
  • Loss of key government attendees and speakers.
  • Reduced or lost hotel room blocks.

These and other issues put an undue burden on planners as they regrouped, rearranged, shuffled and then reshuffled their programing.

The Role of Government in the Meetings Industry

The partial government shutdown shows us the important aspects of government’s vital role in the success of the meetings industry. We must be able to get to and from our meetings and events safely, securely and, hopefully, in a timely manner.

[Related Content: What the Government Shutdown Means for Meetings]

All of this leads to the advocacy vigilance needed on the part of all meeting professionals and organizations associated within the industry.

If we believe that when we meet, we change the world, then we must be prepared to defend and protect what we do. We need to be educated on the issues that affect us and be willing to speak out and defend these positions.

We must be willing to share our stories and data as back-up.

We care about a fully functioning government; one that protects the interests, safety, security and economy vitality of a free flow of commerce—not the volatility of government shutdowns.

[Meetings Today Podcast: Government Shutdown (What Planners Need to Know)]

We avoided a major calamity—this time. What may happen next time? Who knows?

I believe our mission should be to advance and safeguard the economic interests, careers and welfare of all who manage meetings, exhibitions and events.

Roger Rickard is founder and president of Voices in Advocacy, which works to educate, engage and activate support for advocacy in the event industry.

He can be reached at Roger@VoicesInAdvocacy.com.