(I just realized I saved but did not publish this post from Monday. Sorry! Here's a link to the news item my colleague Dave Kovaleski has done on it since.) The biggest news to come out of the press conference this afternoon at PCMA's annual meeting in New Orleans was that folks from all the main meeting organizations, from MPI and ASAE and USTA, got together this morning to strategize about how and what to do to get the meetings industry on the radar screen of the incoming Obama administration. According to PCMA's Deborah Sexton, the goal of the meeting was "to create a plan to move the meetings industry's global impact message forward."'
The organizations she mentioned as being involved in this grand plan are CIC, PCMA, ASAE, NBTA, DMAI, SITE, ACTE, and IAEE. These efforts will tie in with those of USTA and NBTA on the travel and business travel front, from what it sounds like. But meetings will definitely be an important part of the mix, she emphasized. Roger Dow of USTA, who also was at the press conference, said, "We will be lobbying Congress, but you can't lobby with anecdotes. You have to lobby with data."
Sexton said to get the depth of data they're shooting for would take at least a year, but they're ready to get going asap, and will attend a meeting in D.C. in a couple of weeks to figure out the nitty gritty of who does what, when, and how.
Christine Duffy of Maritz Travel, also at the press conference, explained that the "AIG situation" was part of a perfect storm of economic conditions and perceptual problems. Now, she said, "[companies that received] bailouts are actively canceling meetings. We don't want to have this happen again and not have data to back us up" on why this is not a good thing.
CIC did do an economic impact study back in 2005, but this sounds like it'll be even more comprehensive and far-reaching. This is such a good idea, and I hope that it doesn't stop with this one-time effort, but continues to be updated. You never know when you're going to need that data.