Meeting Mentor Magazine

May 2019

Meetings Mean Business Coalition Amping Up for 2019

The meetings and events industry has come a long way in the 10 years since the U.S. Travel Association formed the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) to showcase the $845 billion value this market segment brings to the global economy. But challenges remain, said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow during a press conference at the Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders, held in January in Pittsburgh. Among them are the recent partial government shutdown and labor protests, along with signs that the current red-hot economic climate could start to cool and the lingering potential for travel bans that could discourage meeting attendance.

That’s why MMBC is doubling down on strategies that have been successful to date, such as empowering meeting and hospitality professionals to promote the industry’s value proposition and engaging external business and government influencers to also help spread the word about both the economic impact data and their own stories. MMBC is specifically targeting individuals within the health care, financial services and technology sectors who can serve as “third-party validators” for the meeting industry’s economic value. MMBC also is developing “explainer videos” that can be used to share the industry’s stories with business leaders and government policymakers, another key advocacy target as the U.S. gears up for the 2020 elections.

“We want to connect with decision makers outside our industry,” Dow said. “What we really want to focus on in 2019 is to scale and grow our programming.”

The coalition also is developing resources planners can use should situations that could affect attendance — such as travel bans, controversial legislation or boycotts — arise. Based on research commissioned by Destinations International and MMBC in 2018, the suite of resources will include “a checklist of steps that event planners should take before a travel ban, key considerations for crisis responses, sample communications for attendees and messaging that planners can use after a travel ban,” said Trina Camacho-London, MMBC co-chair and vice president of global group sales at Hyatt Hotels Corp.

One of the key successes MMBC is planning to continue building on is the Global Meeting Industry Day (GMID), to be held this year on April 4. “GMID helps raise awareness of the industry’s value all over the world,” said Camacho-London. “It also helps promote involvement in MMBC from our global partners.” In 2018, GMID was celebrated with a record 206 events in 41 countries.

“Our goal is to try to mitigate the threat to the events business,” said MMBC Co-chair Julie Coker Graham, who is also president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. Dow elaborated, “MMBC remains an insurance policy for the meetings industry. The coalition’s work safeguards against potential threats, which we know could include anything from an economic slowdown to a security issue to the weaponization of meetings through a travel ban or boycott.”

In addition to the overall advocacy program, the coalition also has instituted a rainy-day fund and has formed agreements with its partners to provide resources should a specific crisis arise that requires additional mitigating measures.

To learn more, visit meetingsmeanbusiness.com. — Sue Pelletier

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