Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 18 2013

To The Point: Let's Go Beyond the Dollar Sign

By Deborah Sexton, President & CEO

Advocacy is a major priority for PCMA in 2013.

Everyone from PCMA members and journalists to family members and friends frequently asks for my take on how the meetings industry is doing. I welcome the opportunity to talk about the significant strides we’ve made — recovering ground from recessionary lows, taking advantage of (rather than battling) virtual events and social media, and learning how to deliver greater ROI to our attendees. And the results of this month’s Meetings Market Survey point to a brighter 2013.

But a challenge that continues to nag our industry is the lingering effect of the GSA scandal — the government’s cutbacks on meetings and restrictions on business travel. It was voiced as a concern by a number of respondents to this year’s survey; I’m sure in particular those of you who work with government meetings or whose meetings attract government employees have been feeling the pain. But the potential ripple effects of these cutbacks — and the shadow of doubt they cast on the industry as a whole — remain a concern for us all.

Two years ago, PCMA played a key role in bringing industry associations together to outline “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy” — a research study both PCMA and the PCMA Education Foundation helped fund. The study results provided the industry with definitive data to promote the meetings industry’s significant economic contributions.

But there’s much more for us to promote, beyond the economic impact of meetings. All of us know of the incredible benefits face-to-face meetings offer — learning, relationship-building, problem-solving, and experiencing new business innovations, to name a few.

We need to better promote those messages to government leaders, the media, and the general public. And we must be proactive, rather than reactive, in the wake of another headline-making crisis. So PCMA will be making advocacy even more of a priority in 2013.

At Convening Leaders, we launched the “Do the Write Thing” campaign — an opportunity for you to write personalized letters about the value of your meeting and let PCMA handle the logistics of getting them to your elected officials. This program will continue all year. We’ve also created an Advocacy Task Force, charged with recommending next steps PCMA can take in support of its membership and the industry, and identifying what tools and resources are necessary to move ahead.

The biggest push will be developing clear and concise messages about the value of face-to-face meetings beyond the economy. Our chairman of the board, Johnnie White, CMP, executive director of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation Center for Education, will be working closely with other major industry associations to develop talking points we all can use with government leaders in Washington, D.C., on down to the local level. We then will work on a plan to promote them through the necessary channels. Once this process is complete, we’ll be looking to you to help spread the word to your stakeholders. Be on the lookout for more on this important issue in the coming year.

Sidebar: Getting It Done

As a meeting professional, you are expert at organizing and executing. But even you might learn a thing or two from productivity and efficiency guru David Allen, who pioneered the Getting Things Done program. Hear what he has to say in Executive Editor Christopher Durso’s One on One conversation with him.

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