The Meetings Mean Business Coalition's new co-chairs outlined key accomplishments and future plans during the Professional Convention Management Association's Convening Leaders conference in San Francisco. While celebrating significant accomplishments, the 10-year-old advocacy group is committed to expanding its message about the value of face-to-face meetings well beyond our industry.
MMBC, formed to defend the industry against a wave of negative perceptions about meetings, has remained true to its purpose, said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, at a PMCA press conference on Tuesday. "Our mission is to talk as one voice about how important this industry is, and to showcase the incredible value that meetings, conferences, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions have not only on our industry but on our whole economy."
Dow introduced MMBC's leaders as of Jan. 2, 2020: Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company, the city's convention and visitors bureau; and Trina Camacho-London, vice president of global group sales for Hyatt Hotels Corp., who updated the media on the group's progress and future plans. "We're happy to play our part in helping not only to safeguard this industry for the future," said Dixon, "but to make sure that it grows and prospers as we look forward into 2020 and beyond."
- Target politicians and publicity. A primary objective is to proactively engage business leaders and policymakers. "Of course, the biggest news item of the year is the 2020 elections," said Dixon. "We do think it is going to present lots of opportunities for us to engage elected officials across the country and at every level, and the media, of course, about industry values and perceptions, just as we did in 2016 and in 2018." To that end, MMBC's "Worth Meeting About" campaign will be renewed and enhanced this year.
- Compile current, compelling statistics. "We're going to be renewing our focus on economic data," said Dixon. "One of the issues we had 10 years ago was that we weren't sure of the scale of this industry, so we couldn't really talk about it intelligently. We're going to continue to work on research, and compiling data and information on market trends so that we are prepared with the latest data when we need it. We're going to be strengthening our efforts online to reach more influencers. We're going to continue to remind policy makers and business leaders that they have to leverage face-to-face meetings in their everyday lives."
- Reach city leaders. "We've chosen this year to focus on mayors, city council members and local chambers of congress, in particular, as our target policymaker groups," Dixon noted. "These groups, particularly the mayors, have been important champions for our industry over the years, and they're also making decisions that impact our industry's financial and reputational health every day. We are going to be joining the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and that's going to provide opportunities to engage them at their conference, but also in other ways throughout the year."
- Expand Global Meetings Industry Day. "GMID 2019 was our biggest, resulting in 275 registered events in 54 countries, along with more than 88 million social media impressions," said Camacho-London. "We just went live with registration for GMID 2020, which is going to take place on April 14."
- Enlist global ambassadors. "I'm proud to say that we also now have a robust ambassador program consisting of 41 industry professionals who act as the coalition's arms and legs, and helps us extend our reach and our value story," said Camacho-London. "They have completed more than 120 commitments to amplify our efforts and reach external audiences by representing MMBC at events around the globe. They're helping us to raise awareness of our mission, opportunities to get involved, sharing stats and stories about the industry's value with elected officials in their own areas and in business contexts outside of the industry."
"We are looking for new spokespeople," added Dixon. "So if you are interested, please visit our website to apply or to nominate someone. We welcome everyone to be part of this effort."
- Encourage other countries to share the message. MMBC has licensed its platform and resources to three countries: Meetings Mean Business Canada and Meetings Mean Business India were established in 2019. Mexico also has signed on to the program and will launch it this year, according to Nan Marchand Beauvois, senior vice president of membership and industry relations for the U.S. Travel Association.
"We have no doubt that 2020 will be a banner year for MMBC and for all of us in the industry," concluded Camacho-London. "Our strength lies in the number of active, engaged and incredibly passionate professionals in this room and across the country. We need your help to make sure that our story gets told, and that our stakeholders — both internally and externally — are listening."