A coalition of meetings industry professionals banded together to up the ante on the Meetings Mean Business advocacy effort, the genesis of which followed the 2009 AIG meeting scandal, the decision by Wells Fargo to cancel meetings, and negative comments about meetings and incentives from the Obama Administration in the wake of the TARP bailout.

The re-energized effort, launched Jan. 14 at PCMA's Convening Leaders conference in Boston and which is detailed on the Meetings Mean Business website, seeks to create an advocacy platform to show the value derived from business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions.

“The initial effort of the meetings mean business campaign kicked off in 2009—great campaign, great success, but frankly it never got legs, and I think one of the reasons is we didn't have the whole industry really united behind the campaign,” said David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Travel Company. “So what we've done over the last 18 months is build a true coalition—so the new campaign is really the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, and the important part of that is the whole ‘alphabet soup’ [of industry organizations] are involved.”

Meetings Mean Business Interview

In addition to creating and sustaining employment, the campaign will stress the value of face-to-face meetings to the national and local economies as well as their importance to innovation and business success. The effort will also focus on government meetings—an industry segment that is under intense scrutiny since the economic recession in late 2008—and their ability to facilitate training and development, taxpayer services and collaboration with other government agencies as well as the private sector.

According to organizers, the Meetings Mean Business effort will engage industry stakeholders, along with media and government policymakers in achieving the following three pillars:

  • Creating Personal Connections: Personal relationships are at the core of every business decision, no matter what industry. A face-to-face meeting provides professionals with personal interaction, which leads to deeper relationships.
  • Driving Positive Business Outcomes: Meetings and events deliver profits, help win new accounts and serve as education platforms. They provide a venue for introducing new products and ideas and allow colleagues and partners to come together to innovate and achieve results.
  • Building Strong Communities: Outside of the results driven by business meetings, the events and meetings industry creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, generates billions of dollars of revenue and supports communities across the country.

“It really is targeted [to] multiple audiences—Capitol Hill, obviously the politicians, are all part of that, we’ve got business leaders, we’ve got industry professionals,” Peckinpaugh said. “[It’s] local and national, and then eventually it will go global…all behind the value of face-to-face meetings.

Participants in the Meetings Mean Business campaign include the following organizations: 

U.S. Travel Association; American Society of Association Executives; Caesars Entertainment; CIC; Cruise Lines International Association; Disney Destinations; Destination Marketing Association International; HelmsBriscoe; Hilton Worldwide; Hyatt Corporation; International Association of Exhibitions & Events; Maritz Travel; Marriott International; MPI; MGM Resorts; PCMA; Society of Independent Show Organizers; Site Global; Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide; and a number of major Destination Marketing Organizations.

- By Tyler Davidson