Brad Weaber, Executive Vice President, Smithbucklin, Washington, D.C.

Overall, I was not surprised by the magnitude and impact that the meetings and events industry has on not only the domestic, but the global market as a whole. The powerful information to me was the GDP breakdown and the incredible place our industry has in the overall commerce of the U.S.

The study only further emphasizes to me the absolute importance for our industry to have a voice on Capitol Hill. We cannot back down from demanding a place and a voice in our government, at both the federal and the state levels.

This report will help our customers explain to their stakeholders the value of face-to-face meetings, not only to their respective organizations, but also to the country.

Promoting meetings and travel will go hand in hand with job creation, furthering our economy as well as educating our citizens about the value of traveling to face-to-face meetings.

If we dissuade people from traveling, we have already learned the negative impact it can have on many viable meeting destinations.

Maryanne Bobrow, CAE, CMP, CMM, CHE, Bobrow & Associates
Association and Meetings Management, Citrus Heights, Calif.

It is important for all of us to remember that this is a U.S.-based study and the numbers reported directly relate to the impact of our industry on the U.S. economy. Years ago, I can recall a push by Meeting Professionals International to obtain a standard industrial classification (SIC) for the meetings industry. While that may seem unimportant, the North American Industry Classification System that replaced SIC has yet to define the jobs within our industry.

Our industry can no longer be caught off guard. The study gives every one of us involved in the industry the data needed to make our case for the value of meetings. In the future, when public officials and others make unsubstantiated claims about meetings and meeting venues, we can stand up and refute those claims and provide the data to validate our position. Our industry leaders will do this but each of us individually also must do this. Whether we are employed in an organization, work as an independent, or own our own meetings business, we can ensure that the value of meetings is known because we now have substantive talking points that are based on empirical data. We owe it to ourselves, our companies, and our profession to do our part and spread the word that meetings do, in fact, mean business — and a lot of it.

Sandy Webb, CMP, Director, Meetings and Events, International Association of Venue Managers, Coppell, Texas.

To me, it's almost like preaching to the choir, but I'm glad the industry finally did this, especially because everyone is tugging on us. At a time when everyone is talking about the need for jobs, government officials and organizations should know that cuts to travel and meetings budgets could hurt jobs. How are you going to replace those jobs?

As an association planner, I already know a lot of this information, but I think it's important for the convention industry to have the support of this report as they battle with budgets and travel issues. (IAVM will be working to spread the word of this study to its convention center members through social media, newsletters, and other media vehicles, as needed.)

We already know what's going on in our business and why we do what we do, but the general public doesn't understand it, or the media takes it in the wrong direction, or even the government steps into something they are not certain of, so I think this is good.