Meeting and Travel industry suppliers are feeling squeezed by what they say are excessive requests for funding by industry foundations, and they have organized a meeting to discuss the issues.
Representatives of at least six major industry associations — each of which has a foundation that raises money to support its research and educational efforts — will meet with about a dozen suppliers April 25 at the Westin Grand in Washington, D.C., with an eye toward reforming the foundation funding process, says David Scypinski, senior vice president, industry relations, at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Washington, D.C.
Scypinski says that as the source of most of the foundations' assets, the suppliers come to the table with several key ideas to discuss. They would like to see the foundations re-examine their funding mechanism, explore new funding sources, and develop a system for showing return on investment. Further, many of the suppliers, including Scypinski, believe the solution may be a single industry foundation, which would simplify funding, he says, and give the industry more presence in Washington.
“My big ‘aha’ came from serving on three foundations concurrently [American Society of Association Executives, Professional Convention Management Association, and Meeting Professionals International],” he says. He noticed that there were overlapping programs. “Do we need three women's leadership initiatives? Do we need three multicultural initiatives?” he asks. “My contemporaries have kind of arrived at that same place — wait a minute, time out here.” Scypinski doesn't expect all the issues to be resolved in a single meeting, but says a dialogue is important.
Representatives from Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, Gaylord, Intercontinental, G.E.S., Freeman, United Airlines, and American Airlines have said they will be at the meeting, and others are likely. Associations planning to attend as of mid-March include PCMA, MPI, ASAE, National Business Travel Association, International Association for Exhibition Management, and Destination Marketing Association International.