The seeds have been planted to create a worldwide movement to advance the meetings industry’s profile from the ground up. A federation of international associations that represents both venues for meetings and the people who plan events has commissioned a study and released an actionable proposal. The proposal encourages each member of the meetings industry to begin at a grassroots level promoting and publicizing the meetings industry as a single economic entity, to foster the understanding of the power of the meetings industry and to carve out its own identity.

The Joint Meetings Industry Council, which is a council of eight associations representing the meetings industry who meet regularly to exchange industry perspectives, recently announced details of the proposal, which had as its objective "to improve community and government awareness of the importance of what the meetings industry does and the benefits it creates for host communities, according the press release. The hope "is that will it put industry members in a much better position to influence decisions that affect their future."

The study, prepared by Criterion Communications Inc., Vancouver, B.C., noted that the industry has historically had a low profile due to the absence of any one organization to assume responsibility for industry promotion and a tendency to be overshadowed by the leisure travel industry. The secretariat rotates each year.

With a "bottom-up" approach, the focus is placed on local communities and governments rather than senior levels of government, which are generally far removed from the day-to-day realities of the meetings industry.

Among the recommendations for industry associations’ individual members:

  • The adoption of a single, simple unifying name for the industry to replace the proliferation of names now in use that confuse those outside the industry. The name proposed is "The Meetings Industry."
  • The preparation of a promotional "tool kit" for association members that provides guidelines for community action as well as template articles, ads, and presentations to be adapted for local use, and identifies key messages and themes that can help unify efforts by many different groups.
  • The establishment of a recognized annual "Meetings Industry Week" to provide a focal point for community activities.
  • The creation of a program for the recognition of members’ achievements in industry promotion through a special awards program.

Member associations are reviewing the proposal and its recommendations in order to determine their next actions. Should all JMIC members endorse the proposal, each organization’s members will be provided with the "tool kit" of materials in September of this year to assist and encourage them in raising the industry’s profile with local politicians and community leaders.

JMIC members include The International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC); Association Internationale des Villes Francophones de Congrès (AIVFC); The Latin American Confederation of PCO and Related Companies (COCAL); The European Federation of Conference Towns (EFCT); The International Association of Professional Congress Organizers (IAPCO); The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA); Meeting Professionals International (MPI); and the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (SITE).