Industry Unites for Push to Extol Benefits of Face-to-Face Meetings


Panel discussion during the press conference to launch the Meetings Mean Business campaign at the PCMA Convening Leaders conference


BOSTON–The meetings industry kicked off a $500,000 campaign to call attention to the substantial value of face-to-face events today during a press conference held in conjunction with the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Convening Leaders at the Hynes Convention Center.

With a who's who list of industry leaders in attendance, the Meetings Mean Business coalition identified the goals of the campaign, which is designed as a longterm promotional effort to help educate stakeholders, government officials, media and the public about the economic importance of business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions.

"We have to proactive," said David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Travel and co-chair of Meetings Mean Business.

"This is not a one-time push," said Larry Luteran, senior VP for Hilton Worldwide and co-chair of Meetings Mean Business. "That photo of the guy in the hot tub, that $16 muffin is right around the corner."

While many travel experts agree that the meetings industry was ill-prepared to address the scrutiny it faced in 2009, the Meetings Mean Business campaign is organizing now so if there is future fallout, it will be armed and ready to combat assaults on events. In addition to being offensive in getting its message out, Meetings Mean Business also intends to have data to support its message, experts readily available to speak on behalf of events and one collective voice.

According to numbers supplied by the Convention Industry Council (CIC), there were 1.83 million meetings held in the United States in 2012, with direct spending of $280.4 billion.

"We have to have our cadre in place," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "It means being offensive, not defensive. We're America's adult education."

Meetings Means Business has done a superb job of reaching across the aisle to build its coalition. Members include the U.S. Travel Association, American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Caesars Entertainment, the CIC, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Disney Destinations, Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), Helms Briscoe, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Corporation, International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE), Maritz Travel, Marriott International, Meetings Professionals International (MPI), MGM Grand, PCMA, Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO), Site Global, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and many destination-management organizations.