“We finally have a boulder to move,” said Roger Rickard, partner, Revent, LLC, a meetings industry advocacy consultant, recommended by the Convention Industry Council as advocate to state and local governments for CIC's economic significance report. “Now we all have to get behind the boulder and start moving it inch by inch to help the industry.” Here are Rickard's seven ways you can make a difference:
- Get The Numbers to Your Executive Team
Show them how vital meetings are to your organization, the economy, and job creation. Many association executives already know this, but as the meeting planner you must be the messenger because it validates your role within the association.
- Tell Your Members
Reveal to them the power of meetings, and you could drive attendance. In addition to the education, networking, and business advantages of face-to-face meetings, members may see the importance of your meetings to the economy and the association as an added benefit. Ask members to spread the word throughout their companies and organizations by posting a link to MeetingMeanBusiness.com on your conference or association Web site.
- Get Involved
Join a meetings industry association and participate in its activities. More involvement means a stronger meetings industry with a louder voice. “Our industry has been silent too long and that's been the problem,” said Rickard. “Politicians only bite the dog that doesn't bite them back.”
- Spread the Word Locally
“It's great to get our message out to Washington, and we have to do that, but meetings have the most impact on local communities,” said Rickard. Every meeting that takes place generates tax dollars and jobs. Share this information with your local politicians and write letters to local newspapers. Invite city officials to meetings so they see firsthand how meetings mean business. After all, the local politicians of today may be the national politicians of tomorrow.
- Send Press Releases
At MeetingsMeanBusiness.com, you can download a tool kit with study data, a presentation with top-level statistics, and a sample press release. Customize the release by inserting comments from your association leaders about the study. Send the releases to your internal and external network of publications or to newspapers in a meeting destination to promote the impact of your meeting on the local economy.
- Talk Up the Value of Your Meetings with CVBS
Provide information on the size and scope of your association meeting to the CVB, so it can calculate the meeting's economic value at the local level. CVB officials can use these benchmarks to support their value to local stakeholders, such as elected officials, the business community, and the community at large.
- Tell All Your Partners and Suppliers
About 85 percent of all meetings are held in hotels and $151 billion is spent annually on meetings-related commodities. Let hoteliers and suppliers know that they are a vital part of the industry. Encourage them to get involved and urge them to be meetings industry advocates. “This isn't just a feel-good thing,” said Rickard. “We have the tools with this survey to be able to go out and justify all the things that this industry has known for a long time but hasn't been able to articulate.”