I just received a copy of a letter Meeting Professionals International's president and CEO Bruce MacMillan sent to MPI members calling them to take action on two separate amendments the House and Senate voted to approve that would put strict limits on what government agencies could spend on conferences and events moving forward (details on the amendment, MPI's take on it, a list of Congress members to whom you can make your feelings known, a sample letter to send said Congress members, and a link to ASAE's petition are here.) While Congress has passed the bills, they aren't law until President Obama signs them. So I'll add my plea to MacMillan's: Let your elected officials know the unintended consequences these pieces of legislation could have on the hospitality and travel industries.
The legislation was filed in response to the rather repulsive General Services Administration meetings debacle that already has resulted in almost $1 million in meeting cancellations. MacMillan, along with the rest of us, is concerned not only about the government meeting planners who are already being affected, but also for the trickle-down effect it will have as government employees are effectively banned from attending and speaking at non-governmental conferences.
As Bruce says in his letter, "Our industry's message is simple: The gross mismanagement of any public trust should be dealt with immediately and stridently, which it has been. But, that the across-the-board imposition restricting government employee attendance at conferences and events is also negligent and irresponsible and will only further disrupt our nation's recovering economy."
As an aside, it's nice to see this industry's associations pulling together on this. As well they should, since this could affect all of us.
Send those letters. Make those calls. Today.