The U.S. Travel Association has launched a new campaign to raise awareness in Congress about the importance of meetings and incentive travel to the economy. The campaign is focusing on 43 lawmakers from the states that do the most meeting and incentive travel business.
Initial briefings with lawmakers are already going on, and beginning at the end of the first quarter 2012, each will receive an inaugural quarterly custom report on the health of the meetings industry in their districts and around the country.
“U.S. Travel is leading this phase of building the base of support we need on the Hill to protect the meetings business,” said Nan Marchand, senior director, national councils, U.S. Travel Association, at a press conference. The campaign, she said, will not only inform Congress members and staff about the value of meetings but also help to prevent negative rhetoric, like the “AIG effect,” which hurt the meetings industry in 2008 and 2009.
“The campaign we’re undertaking on the Hill is a continuation of our efforts since 2009,” said Erik Hansen, director, domestic policy, U.S. Travel, who explained the campaign strategy at the press conference. “The difference [now] is that we’re going to take a more targeted approach on the Hill, and in those [key] states we’ve identified 43 potential champions for the meetings and events industry. We’re going to go out to these members and make the case that meetings matter not only to their district and to their state but to the economy as a whole.
The campaign will be aimed at policymakers in New York, Florida, Nevada, Illinois, Louisiana, Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, Hawaii, California, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
When U.S. Travel’s representatives meet with each lawmaker, said Hansen, they’ll explain the number of jobs and economic spend that meetings and events produce for his or her state or district, and they’ll quantify the value of those meetings and events to the broader economy. They also plan to ask these Congress members to take a closer look at the industry. “We’re going to connect them to meetings and conventions and trade shows that are happening in their own state or district to give them a kind of back-of-the-house tour,” said Hansen, “so they can see firsthand the power of this industry and what it means to their local community.”
Working with Smith Travel Research, U.S. Travel has developed a dashboard of economic indicators that will be customized to each lawmaker and delivered each quarter. The dashboard, Hansen explained, will provide a snapshot of “how the meetings and events industry is doing in their district in the past quarter compared to the rest of the country and overall for the year—real-time update on their district.”