Yesterday the US Treasury Department announced new regulations for recipients of funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In addition to executive compensation limits, the department will require the Boards of Directors of those recipient corporations to adopt a company-wide policy on expenditures related to, among other things, conferences and events. While the language stated that the regulations are not intended to cover reasonable expenditures for “…sales conferences, staff development, reasonable performance incentives and other measures tied to a company’s normal business operations”, it will require certification by the company’s chief executive that expenditures that could be viewed as “excessive or luxury items” are in compliance with Board policy.
Obviously this has inflamed an already high level of industry business anxiety. MPI, along with other meeting and event industry organizations including the US Travel Association, have come together to dialogue directly with the government to ensure the best interests of our members, their businesses and their communities are not compromised at a time of economic crisis.We also need to tell our story: our industry is a significant economic contributor and supports millions of jobs across America, and beyond. We also know from our EventView study that events provide the highest level of business return on investment. It’s clear: getting the economy re-energized depends on an unencumbered meeting and event industry. Meetings and events are not the problem, they are part of the solution. Accordingly, we are taking collaborative action.
The first step is the release of a joint industry statement to set the record straight. Its full text is included below.
During the next few days we will collaboratively release industry best practice standards that will be familiar to most of you as they are at the essence of what our community has embraced for years. We’ll also devote a segment of our MeetDifferent opening general session – One+ Real Time – to this issue with participation from Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US Travel Association. It will be webcast live and also archived on MPIWEB.
As previously announced, the industry will collaborate on the creation of a US economic impact study, leveraging the experience of the MPI Foundation Canada’s acclaimed 2008 Canadian Economic Impact Study, to define how our industry supports economies in communities. And working with organizations and corporations in our industry, we will get our story and the opportunity our industry provides into legislative chambers and board rooms everywhere.
Like you, we are concerned by the current challenging economic and political circumstances. But rest-assured we are acting aggressively with the support of other meeting and event industry organizations as well as the US Travel Association to represent your interests. Together we will use the power of meetings and events to get our economies and our businesses moving.
Thank-you for your ongoing support.
Bruce M. MacMillan
President & CEO
Meeting Professionals International
For Immediate Release February 5, 2009
Contact: Kristy Chandler, 202.408.2172, firstname.lastname@example.org
American Workers, Local Communities Unintended Victims of Cuts in Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel Programs…
Travel Community to Issue ‘Best Practice Standards’ to Corporate America
Washington, D.C. – Leaders from key organizations representing the travel, meetings and events industries today issued the following statement regarding federal government efforts to curtail meetings, events and incentive travel programs among companies that have received emergency government lending:
“Americans expect Congress and the Obama Administration to responsibly and effectively oversee the use of taxpayer dollars to companies receiving emergency government lending. Americans also expect the business community and elected leaders to protect jobs and help the country rebound as quickly as possible from the current economic crisis.”
“We are extremely concerned about the unintended consequences of unnecessarily restricting corporate meetings, events and incentive travel programs. Business-related travel generates 2.4 million American jobs, $244 billion in spending and $39 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level. State and local governments rely on this revenue to fund basic government programs such as education, health care and unemployment insurance.”
“At a time when the Department of Labor reports a loss of nearly 200,000 travel related jobs in 2008 and U.S. Commerce Department data predicts a loss of an additional 247,000 travel related jobs in 2009, elected officials and corporate America must take a thoughtful approach to managing the use of taxpayer dollars. Prudent organizations already have in-place travel and meeting management policies that ensure an effective return on investment for stakeholders. In the coming days, the travel, meetings and events industries will provide the business community with additional standards for meetings, events and incentives that demand transparency and accountability.”
““Travelers are an important solution to the economic problems that ail our country. The travel community looks forward to working with America’s elected leaders and businesses to ensure that we keep America moving.”
American Hotel and Lodging Association
Destination Marketing Association International
Meeting Professionals International
National Business Travel Association
Professional Convention Management Association
Society of Incentive Travel Executives (SITE)
U.S. Travel Association
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The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $740 billion travel industry. U.S. Travel’s mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States. For more information, visit www.ustravel.org.