Want to make an unforgettable impression on the industry's most influential group of religious-meetings decision makers? Apply to host the 2014 RCMA World Conference and Exposition.

How significant is hosting RCMA? Listen to those who have done it.

RCMA 2011 will convene in Tampa, Florida, which last hosted the conference in 2002. Paul Catoe, president of Tampa Bay & Company, the convention and visitors bureau, said that at the time of the 2002 meeting, only five months after 9/11, his city's convention trade was nearly nonexistent. “You brought Tampa back to life,” said Catoe, who added that Tampa booked 175,000 room nights as a result of hosting RCMA 2002. “RCMA helped put food on the tables of 40,000 people who work in the Tampa Bay hospitality industry.”

Grand Rapids, Michigan, hosted RCMA in 2009. Doug Small, president of the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said at the time: “This week, we welcomed the Super Bowl of religious conventions — the Religious Conference Management Association 2009 World Conference and Exposition — to Grand Rapids. RCMA is more than just another meeting. It is the springboard necessary for West Michigan's entree into the national convention arena.

“Our ability to host one of the nation's most coveted conventions is a major coup for this community. The potential return on investment for our region is tremendous. RCMA is projected to generate millions in new convention business over the next five years.”

Louisville, Kentucky, host city in 2007, trumpeted the news of landing RCMA by saying that it had “just landed one of the nation's most sought-after conventions.” Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson said: “This is an opportunity to showcase Louisville to religious meeting planners who can bring millions of dollars to our economy. We couldn't ask for a better marketing opportunity.” Louisville booked 152,000 room nights for religious meetings after hosting RCMA.

When RCMA went to Pittsburgh in January 2004, Joe McGrath, president and CEO of Visit Pittsburgh, said that RCMA was so important that Pittsburgh's leadership had been working to attract the conference for more than 10 years. Pittsburgh calculated that RCMA brought an economic benefit of more than $1 million to the city, not including the benefits of attracting future religious meetings; Pittsburgh booked 115 religious meetings and 188,000 room nights after hosting RCMA.

Here's a summary of the application procedure:

  • Bureaus obtain the procedure for site selection and the specific requirements for hosting the convention by contacting the RCMA office.

  • A city wishing to host the RCMA World Conference and Exposition submits a written invitation from its convention and visitors bureau, along with a detailed commitment to fulfill ALL the RCMA Service and Facility Requirements.

  • Included with the invitation must be a description of the accommodations and facilities proposed for use by the conference, guaranteed room rates, and any program ideas, special inducements, and sponsorships that would make the site particularly attractive to RCMA … plus detailed information on airlines serving the city.

  • The invitation and pertinent accompanying data are to be received by RCMA staff by November 5, 2010, for the 2014 conference.

  • RCMA staff review each proposal and contact the bureau extending an invitation. After detailed discussion concerning the written bid and supporting data, if the bureau meets all the requirements, it may proceed to perfect its proposal.

  • After final review and acceptance by RCMA staff, the bureau sends its proposal to the members of the RCMA Board of Directors two weeks before the next World Conference and Exposition (January 11, 2011, for the conference in 2014).

  • The bureau extending an official invitation will have the opportunity to make a 10-minute oral presentation to the board on Monday evening prior to the opening of the World Conference and Exposition three years in advance of the year for which the invitation is extended.

  • After the Board hears the oral presentations and reviews the proposals, members vote by secret ballot.

  • The results of the vote will be announced to the bidders by the president of RCMA the following day.