At the recent Motivation Show in Chicago, attendees lined up to take their picture with New York’s Mayor Rudy Guiliani. Well, it was actually Madame Tussaud’s wax version of Rudy, shipped out from New York for the event, but he was a star nonetheless.
Jackie Bernstein, president and partner, Empire Force Events in New York says, "The people that came to the New York City booth wanted to know how we were doing, and wanted to know how they could support us. I said, ‘Just travel to New York and spend your money.’ Many companies are still planning to come because they feel it’s a patriotic move to make."
Other companies are also trying to support New York, just by keeping their meetings in New York. "We’ve actually have had some cancellations of groups going to other destinations, but we have a group going to the Michelangelo Hotel in New York in December and they absolutely did not want to cancel because they wanted to support New York now," says Charles Stain, vice president, group business manager, Maritz, based in Los Angeles.
Mary Ann Doherty, president, River West Meeting Associates in Chicago said they moved a January healthcare meeting from Hamburg back to the U.S. because they had concerns about traveling overseas. They company chose New York, she says, because "they felt financially and symbolically they wanted to support New York."
Heather Mirabelli, senior meetings manager for Interlink Healthcare Communications in Lawrenceville, N.J., planned a New York meeting for Novartis Pharmaceutical Company for their Oncology division after September 11. She says they didn’t choose New York out of patriotism but because of its great appeal. Nevertheless, she says, "I not only think it’s our patriotic duty to start traveling again, I think we have to out of necessity. We have to move on with our lives."
Bernstein says one company that is planning on coming to New York around the holidays has made some inquiries about doing somework to benefit the victims of September 11. "This comes from the CEO who wants to do something above and beyond just tours. He wants his company to walk away feeling like they made a difference."
Other destinations are also pitching in to help New York. At the American Society of Travel Agents meeting in New York in November, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau canceled an expensive dinner planned for the 2,000 delegates and, instead Hawaii’s governor Ben Cayetano gave a $125,000 check to the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund—and gave the delegates $75 each to dine out that night in New York's restaurants, the governor's office said.