The past year’s efforts to make Washington aware of the economic impact of the travel and meetings industry have culminated in the first meeting of the U.S. Travel Association’s newly minted Meetings, Incentives and Trade Show Council.

This new council—which is co-chaired by major industry players Christine Duffy, president and CEO, Maritz Travel, and Larry Luteran, senior vice president of group sales, Hilton Worldwide—will focus on research, communications, government relations, and promotion. Among its goals are establishing the value of meetings, incentives, and trade shows in the minds of opinion leaders, policymakers, and business leaders, and driving a proactive legislative agenda that increases domestic meetings, incentives, and trade show activity.

Behind the effort is Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, whose roots come from the meetings industry, having moved to USTA after 34 years with Marriott. Dow was instrumental in the formation of the Meetings Mean Business Web site, which includes talking points on the value of meetings, sample letters to legislators and newspapers, and other information. He was also behind a landmark study last fall by Oxford Economics that showed that for every dollar invested in business travel, businesses experience an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits.

"The critical meetings, incentives, and trade-show industries need a collective voice, and U.S. Travel is excited to build on its 2009 successes,” he said last week. "We will strive to ensure that the attacks of 2009 on the credibility of meetings never again take place and that the value of this industry is finally understood."

Visit U.S. Travel’s Web site for access to numerous research reports, a letter from Dow recapping the accomplishments of 2009, and information about upcoming events.

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