The Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Board of Directors has reiterated its support for the meetings industry coalition formed by the U.S Travel Association, and for a unified voice going forward. Here’s Financial & Insurance Meetings’ recent conversation with FICP Executive Director Steve Bova:

Financial & Insurance Meetings: In April, the FICP Board of Directors met with Christine Duffy, president & CEO, Maritz Travel. What came out of that meeting?

Steve Bova: FICP VP Communications Jan Hennessey [senior director, meetings & event management, Fireman’s Fund, Novato, Calif.] and I invited Christine to meet with the board because she was instrumental in pulling together the key players that ultimately formed the meetings, event, and incentives consortium that has been advocating on behalf of our industry.

Christine offered her insights regarding the media and advocacy campaign and spoke with the board about what she sees as the future of the industry. Steve O’Malley, vice president, Strategy and Industry Relations, for Maritz, has been invited to offer a similar update to attendees at the FICP Summer Education Forum [June 21 to 23 at The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs; find registration information at the FICP Web site.]

FIM: Describe FICP’s involvement with the meetings industry coalition.

SB: FICP and all meetings industry associations have been represented in the coalition from its inception. It simply is not efficient to include the more than 40 organizations that all have some level of interest in the industry cause; therefore, a broad cross-section of associations was selected to represent our unified voice. FICP will be involved in providing input to a standard industry policy. I represented FICP at the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Coalition Forum in April. And the FICP Board is considering various options to become more active with U.S. Travel.

FIM: Did you provide feedback on the industry guidelines for meetings and incentives?

SB: The industry guidelines were developed rather quickly by those within the third-party industry (incentive houses). These are the guidelines being considered by the U.S. Treasury. What will be more substantial and applicable to FICP members and hospitality partners is a standard industry policy that will be developed to comply with the guidelines. The worst scenario is if companies began to develop their own policies, which would mean a lack of continuity on the part of our industry. Now that we are speaking with one voice, it is equally important that we act as a unified industry.

FIM: The industry coalition has proposed a broad economic impact study. Is FICP supporting this study?

SB: Of course FICP supports the need for a full industry economic impact study. In fact, the association planned to conduct a followup to our 2004 study this year, but delayed this research in favor of the larger industry study. When the media frenzy began, our industry did not have current data that would have quickly demonstrated the impact of our industry on the economy. The Convention Industry Council, of which FICP is a member, is tasked with organizing the study.

FIM: How do you advise FICP members to support the coalition?

SB: FICP members can support the coalition in several ways:

  • View the CNBC interview with the CEO of Texas Roadhouse Restaurants. It is a compelling message from someone who was willing to stand up to the media and say that meetings and investing in people are important. I would encourage every planner and hospitality partner to show this video clip to his or her boss.
  • Note that this is Travel & Tourism Week. Check with your local CVB, as many are organizing rallies in support of the industry.
  • If you haven’t done it yet, sign the Keep America Meeting petition.
  • Visit the Meetings Mean Business Web site for a list of more ways to get involved, including contacting politicians and sharing your viewpoints.