Meetings, Events And Incentive Travel: Critical To American Jobs, Communities And Businesses
In adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward suspected corporate excess, policymakers have been demonizing companies for legitimate travel to meetings and events and for rewarding high performing employees with travel.
Handicapping businesses to score political points is shortsighted and erects barriers to recovery. This type of travel helps companies build relationships, retain and develop employee talent, generate ideas and facilitate knowledge sharing that drives business growth. In a weak economy, doesn't every company in America need more opportunities to promote recovery and plan for better days?
Trips have also been mischaracterized as CEO junkets. But attendees of incentive program travel, for example, are typically middle-class Americans who have earned travel to reward exceptional work.
Economic recovery and job creation is tied to a robust travel industry. Scaring companies to eliminate travel from their business plan will further restrict growth and hinder recovery at a time they are needed most.
Specifically, meetings and events:
Create 1 million jobs to the American workforce in local communities - from big cities to small towns - across the United States. Many of these jobs support working families in the hospitality and food service industries.
Generate $27 billion in wages for hardworking Americans that are critical to local economies across the United States, and can play a critical role in our nation's economic recovery.
Provide $16 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level.
Contribute $101 billion in spending to the U.S. economy.
Support over 200 local convention centers around the county
Are responsible for nearly 15 percent of all travel in the United States.
When businesses cancel productive meetings and events, the Americanworker and local communities from coast-to-coast are the unintended victims.
Without the jobs generated by meetings, events and incentive travel, the current unemployment rate of 7.6 percent would rise to 8.2 percent and cost the average American household an additional $136 in annual taxes.
Business travel creates 2.4 million American jobs, $240 billion in spending and $39 billion in tax revenue.
In the last 30 days, Hereschicago.com, Chicago's most popular website for meetings and events has seen a 40% increase in traffic from meeting planners seeking Chicago meeting & event venues.
The demand for face to face meetings is strong and the importance of having them is greater than ever in our history. For example, within one week of sending the invitation for our Here's Chicago Meetings and Hospitality St. Pat's BASH event taking place on March 2, 2009 we are at capacity with the most meeting and event professionals registered in the history of this event with over 400 registered attendees and another 100 on the waiting list.
It is our responsibility today to communicate the positive messages from our industry and how we all directly contribute to the future growth of our economy.
Let's make history together,
Statistics compiled from the United States Travel Association (USTOA)
Jim Grillo, CMP