Meetings industry associations have been collaborating to address abortion-related legislation and its impact on site-selection decisions. Their collective message: Controversial topics should not be ignored, nor should they necessarily disqualify a destination from consideration. The following guidance is excerpted from a decision tool developed by the American Society of Association Executives for internal use and shared as a general framework for other organizations to consider. (See related article, "How the Events Industry is Responding to State Abortion Bans.")
Gather Information Before Acting
- How is the local destination management organization or the city itself addressing discriminatory laws or regulations in their area?
- Where do local elected officials stand on the legislation/policy?
- Does the local jurisdiction have an anti-discrimination policy?
- Where do the local and state tourism/hospitality associations stand on the legislation/policy?
- How can the association work with the DMO and local association members to demonstrate to legislators the broad negative results of discriminatory laws and regulations?
Review Legal Obligations
- Does the association have the option to cancel without penalty? If not, what are the financial, political and cultural consequences of canceling?
- Is the hotel venue part of a national chain with options for moving the event to a different venue?
- What can be done to address the issue of concern if the association holds its meeting or event in the destination as planned?
Weigh the Impact of Canceling
- Who would be affected by a decision to cancel? Consider members, attendees, suppliers, the association itself, hospitality workers, etc.
- Weigh financial considerations, the association’s values, and the impact on those affected by the decision to cancel or go forward.
- How does the decision to stay or cancel align with the association’s stated values, code of ethics and/or advocacy positions?
- Will either decision undermine or advance the association’s reputation?
Plan a Course of Action
- If the event is not canceled or moved, consider communicating with members in advance to explain the issue and the association’s decision to stay.
- If the issue poses safety concerns for some, explain what the association will do to ensure their safety once on-site.
- Host an activity, charitable fundraiser or service project in the community that supports the association’s stand on the issue.
- Meet with local legislators to discuss how local laws negatively affect association members, their own constituents and the destination itself.