MMBC to Meetings Industry: There’s No Reason to Cancel Events in the U.S.

Facts, not fear, should guide decisions, urges Meetings Mean Business Coalition.

Crowd So Blue Big Session Getty
To date, there are no formal restrictions on meetings in the U.S. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Coronavirus and Meetings
Head here to see Northstar Meetings Group's comprehensive and continuing coverage of how coronavirus is affecting meetings.

Meetings industry leaders are rallying to address growing concerns about COVID-19 and the outbreak's damaging impact on travel and events. To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have a coronavirus-related travel health notice for the United States, and it is safe to travel and meet here.

Cancellations are "premature," assures an open letter to the meetings industry, endorsed by the 64-member Meetings Mean Business Coalition, all leading industry suppliers, including major hotel companies, convention and visitor bureaus and third-party planners who have joined forces to emphasize the importance of the industry.

That message was emphasized last week at Northstar Meetings Group’s SMU International event, which drew 325 participants to New York City – with no cancellations related to virus fears. The international audience appreciated Northstar’s commitment to holding industry events as planned.

"Members of the travel industry need to consider the importance of the behavior we demonstrate in response to this situation," said Tom Kemp, CEO of Northstar Travel Group, in an internal meeting today. “Northstar will continue to participate in industry events and will proceed with its own events following the guidelines of the leading authorities, while taking all the precautions advised."

Moments ago, MMBC members jointly approved a similar message in this open letter to the meetings industry:

Dear Meeting and Event Professionals:

At this time, no federal restrictions are in place to prevent travel within the United States. However, misinformation — in the news, on social media and among colleagues — has led to rising concerns and premature calls for meeting cancellations.

As of now, anyone hosting or attending a meeting in the U.S. may proceed as planned, while continuing to consult information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health authorities. Of note: Some companies and city leaders have announced internal travel restrictions, which vary on a case-by-case basis, and primarily involve international meetings.

The situation is evolving rapidly, and we expect the influx of questions and need for resources to remain steady, particularly for front-line meeting and travel employees. In addition to providing updates and coordinating with emergency responders from the health and safety community, the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) is committed to providing tailored resources and communications assistance to industry professionals.

MMBC’s coronavirus preparedness toolkit has industry-specific messaging and materials, including talking points, template press materials and sample social media content. The toolkit also includes links to issue roundups, webinar recordings, press statements and business intelligence from MMBC member companies — the U.S. Travel Association, Professional Convention Management Association, Events Industry Council, American Society of Association Executives, International Association of Exhibitions & Events, American Hotel & Lodging Association and Meeting Professionals International.

Moving forward, MMBC will continue to monitor the situation and provide updated information and resources as needed for industry professionals. We will continue to engage with health and safety authorities on any planned or anticipated measures that may impact travel. Currently, authorities are recommending the same personal best practices that are standard for a typical flu season (e.g., frequent hand washing).

As a coalition, we are committed to addressing misinformation and popular misconceptions about business travel in the news and on social media. Our goal is to ensure facts about the coronavirus are understood, and we thank everyone who is assisting in efforts to promote the latest guidance and expert advice.

We recognize the months — even years — of work that precede a major meeting and applaud industry professionals who are managing as best they can through this unfortunate and unanticipated situation. Our hope is that travelers continue to exercise healthy meeting habits and that some reassurance is granted to those hosting and attending meetings in unaffected areas during this time.

Northstar Meetings Group is committed to publishing the most current and reliable information on COVID-19. Daily updates and helpful resources can be found here.