Included in the U.S. Government’s huge stimulus package, known as The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, are rules on executive compensation and “luxury expenditures”—including meetings—for companies that receive government bailout money.
Now a group of meeting industry heavies is working to make the vaguely written rules into a clear policy for companies to follow. “Our goal is to self-regulate our industry. We don’t want the government to tell us what constitutes a legitimate meeting or incentive program,” says Brenda Anderson, CEO of Site (formerly the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives). Site is one of seven founding members of the Meeting, Event, and Incentive Coalition, which announced in January its intention to lobby lawmakers on the importance of the meeting industry to the U.S. economy.
The coalition’s focus now, however, is to get the U.S. Treasury Department to understand and adopt the language of its new model meeting and incentive guidelines as the Department works to implement The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act rules. Those rules require the board of directors of any recipient of funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to develop a companywide policy regarding excessive or luxury expenditures on entertainment, events, staff development, and performance incentives, among other corporate activities.
In addition, the coalition rolled out a public relations tool kit this week, to help people more easily communicate the value and return on investment of meetings and events to their local media and congressional representatives. “We’ll have templates for letters to editors and letters to congressmen, for example, all with key messaging points. There will be access for anyone to go online and download the materials,” says Anderson.
As for the grass roots Keep America Meeting e-petition campaign, it’s an important component of a unified industry call to action, believes Anderson. “The last thing we need is to go off on our own and undermine each other’s efforts—there is too much at stake. I urge every industry association to encourage their members to sign the online petition.”