Don't leave home without it. No, not your American Express Card. It's your passport, which now must be shown for U.S. citizens to enter (and get back from) Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean by air, under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Meeting Professionals International is getting ready to meet in Montreal July 28 to 31, and it will be the first major meeting industry association conference outside the U.S. under the WHTI requirements. While you'd think most MPI members would be savvy enough to know about the new requirement, it's still not hard to imagine one or two being turned away at the airport and missing the meeting, or at least arriving very late.

Here are some things you can do to avoid that unfortunate scenario for your attendees when planning meetings outside the U.S.:

  • Start promoting the need to apply for passports well before the meeting---a year, if possible (10 to 12 weeks is the average wait at this time).
  • Put a prominent notice on the home page of the meeting or event Web site with details about WHTI.
  • Provide links on the Web site to the U.S. State Department for information on how to obtain a passport.
  • Include reminders about the passport regulations in every communication to attendees, exhibitors, speakers, and others coming to the event.
  • At any meeting you hold before your Canada, Mexico, or Caribbean event, set up a booth where people can apply for passports on the spot, get their photos taken, etc.

For more ideas on how to attract a global audience to your meeting, click here.