At a panel discussion on international travel and safety at AIME 2003, the 11th annual AsiaPacific Incentives and Meetings Expo that took place held in February in Melbourne, Australia, political risk specialist Peter Stening of the Stening Simpson Group, Sydney, reiterated that no destination could be considered safe from terrorist attack. One incentive planner in the audience asked, "How do we sell travel in this climate of fear?" Stening replied, "Sell travel the way you always have: Sell the taste of a new location but sell it with a little more caution."

And, unlike the pre-9/11 days when we couldn't get enough branding--with corporate logos at airports, on hotel marquees, and headrests of airline seats--the trend now is toward anonymity. It is no longer advisable for a company to announce it is visiting a specific destination, its flight itinerary, or where the group is staying, said the risk specialist. Event organizers choose a low-key entrance and, when signage is necessary, such as for an airport meet and greet, it is common to use the name of the program rather than the company name on signs.

In closing, Stening said, "You are all in the travel business. Don't get scared. Let's live, but take a few more precautions, such as choosing destinations that are considered to be more secure and telling attendees not to be too flamboyant ... Leave the Louis Vuitton luggage at home."--Helena Faith Miel, CITE