Overseas travel to the United States for business, including conventions, has decreased about 26 percent through August, compared to the same period in 2008.

“It behooves us all to find ways to reach out to international delegates and expand the marketing efforts for the conventions that are taking place here in the U.S.,” says HELEN MARANO, director of tourism industries at the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism, Washington, D.C.

Meeting planners and exhibition organizers who cater to an international membership should try to market beyond U.S. borders. The Internet — particularly social media sites and dedicated micro-sites — is an effective, inexpensive tool, Marano says.

MEETINGSNET.COM

  • With the unveiling of details for Disney's newest cruise ship, the Disney Dream, and the green light for a new theme park in Shanghai, China, meeting professionals have plenty to look forward to from Disney. The next couple of years reflect “one of the largest growth phases in our company's history,” says George Aguel, senior vice president for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

  • Boston hopes to become a larger player on the meetings and conventions scene. City officials in November announced an initiative called T5, aimed at transforming Boston over the next decade into one of the top five convention cities in North America. Key components of the initiative include expansion of the five-year-old Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, new hotel rooms for the city, transportation upgrades, and improvement of the city's hospitality culture.