Faced with sweeping layoffs and record revenue losses suffered by the hospitality industry post-9/11, the Convention Industry Council had a lot on its plate when the group held its Issues Summit on December 3, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago.

“The short answer to the outcome of the summit is that the 160 participants agreed unanimously that we need to speak with one voice to promote the value of face-to-face meetings to the CEOs and CFOs of this country — meeting planners already know the value — in order to encourage them not to cut this type of business travel from their budgets,” reports Mary E. Power, CIC president and CEO. CIC, which consists of more than 30 industry organizations in the hospitality, meetings, and travel fields, will launch and fund a public relations campaign with this goal in early 2002, she says.

Participants also voted to have CIC develop safety and security information, and to have CIC develop a tool kit that would help planners and suppliers deal with new marketing, communications, and safety issues in the post-9/11 world. CIC plans to act in all these areas, Power says.

Global Cooperation

Powers says the campaign will be coordinated with a global effort being spearheaded in Europe by Reed Travel Exhibitions and the International Congress and Convention Association. Called The Industry Fights Back, the campaign is designed to bring a unified approach to getting people back on the road and to meetings, trade shows, and events.

Tom Nutley, managing director of Reed, called a meeting of the key meeting industry associations on November 13 in London, during World Travel Market week. Attending were representatives of ICCA, The International Meetings Association, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Meeting Professionals International, Dallas; the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives, New York; and several representatives from Reed. The associations are also members of another coalition, the Joint Meeting Industry Council (JMIC), comprising some 13 international associations.

The meeting was held to review and discuss each other's best practices in dealing with the 9/11 aftermath. Tom Hulton, president of ICCA, reported on his association's annual conference held just one week previously in Cancun, Mexico. From that conference came a position statement for the industry, which clearly delineates the difference between the meeting business and tourism to the general press and public.

MPI's Ian Dockrill reported on the foundation summit held by U.S. meeting industry associations in New York in late October, which produced a nine-point action plan to respond to the after-effects of 9/11 on the meeting industry. Those present embraced that plan.

Dockrill added that he was encouraged by a couple of things in late November. “First, The World Travel Market was just like any other year. The aisles were full. The other encouraging sign we see is that from our regular surveys of our MPI members, the rate of [meeting] cancellations has been curtailed,” he said.