In an attempt to protect the meetings industry from a weak global economy, the U.S. Travel Association aims to educate lawmakers on the value of MICE and its stimulating economic effects. The campaign was born on the momentum gained from President Obama’s announcement (on January 19) of plans for a national strategy to boost travel and tourism in the United States.
The U.S. meetings industry currently supports over 1.7 million jobs nationwide and generates approximately $263 billion in spending per year. Vote Travel intends to enhance these numbers by making the United States a critical part of the travel boom currently happening around the world.
Though such promotional efforts by the U.S. Travel Association began in 2009, the campaign today has stronger direction. Vote Travel’s most recent focus is to lobby 43 lawmakers in Congress with the strongest meeting and incentive travel business for their state. These particular policymakers will soon be given the first quarterly report (from Vote Travel) of the U.S. meetings industry, with a focus on their specific district. By quantifying the value of each lawmaker’s local meetings industry, U.S. Travel hopes to create a connection between politician and cause.
The Vote Travel campaign will incorporate local outreach programs as well as media coverage, events and rallies worldwide. Vote Travel has outlined the following goals:
- Enhance support for travel industry among policymakers and travel industry partners;
- Generate media attention on the travel industry’s impact on the U.S. economy, including state and local economies and specific congressional districts;
- Fortify the travel industry’s visibility and relevance in Washington, D.C.;
- Showcase the critical importance of MICE events during the Democratic and Republican conventions to target both parties, convention attendees and medias;
- Build basic support from local voters for the U.S. Travel Association through social media platforms
Part of this campaign also includes the creation of the U.S. Travel Association’s Meetings, Incentives and Trade Show Council, lead by Maritz President/CEO Christine Duffy and Larry Luteran, senior VP of group sales at Hilton Worldwide. Besides the tasks of research and industry promotion, this council has assumed a proactive legislative agenda.
Roger Dow, as president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, has been behind the Vote Travel effort from day one. He even took part in the creation of Meetings Mean Business, at http://www.meetingsmeanbusiness.com/. This web site incorporates press releases and meetings industry studies (conducted by PwC), highlighting the new Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy study.
Government support has become a major asset for remaining competitive in the MICE industry. The media coverage and financial aid gained from federal involvement are both great marketing tools for any destination. Campaigns similar to Vote Travel have been pursued in Canada and Puerto Rico.
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