Friday, September 4, 2009

Business Committed to Meetings, Just Not This Year

A new survey released this week by Forbes Insight (the research arm of the publisher of the famous business magazine) shows while leading executives still believe in the power of face-to-face meetings, they are not showing their enthusiasm in spending approval for such gatherings.

Eight-four percent of the more than 700 decision-makers surveyed in June said they prefer such conferences as opposed to web conferences, video conferences or teleconferences. However 58 percent of those polled said they are traveling less frequently than in January 2008.

The study also found that virtual meetings work best for information dissemination and data presentation. For more details (

This survey suggests that meeting destinations try their best to offer the best of both worlds to meeting planners. For instance, the METS Center, Northern Kentucky's premier high-tech conference center (, is advocating web conferencing which allows meetings to take place but can also utilize technology so the event can be broadcast globally to hold down widespread travel costs. In the end, the economic impact to the community might be down but it allows meetings to take place, which does provide some relief to local coffers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Support For the Value of Meetings

ASAE, the American Society for Association Executives is the latest to come to the support of the meetings business after Congress took issue with corporate meetings practices by insurance group AIG and others this spring. ASAE has launched a new public awareness campaign.

ASAE's actions follow those of the US Travel Association which created the Meetings Mean Business Campaign talking about the unintended consequences of putting hourly hotel workers in the unemployment lines by discouraging meetings with what some thought was a "broad brush" mentality.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rust Belt Decline Affects Economy in Different Ways

One of my newest volunteer jobs is mentoring 19 chapters of the American Marketing Association located in the Southeast, the Atlantic region and the Midwest. Yesterday (August 13), the Wall Street Journal detailed the decline of Rust Belt cities ('Fastest Dying Cities' Meet For Lively Talk, outlined in its coverage of a meeting held recently in Dayton, Ohio attended by representatives from ten cities in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. While there was some venting going on, attendees bemoaned the fact that many of their residents ignore that there is actual good news not being reported in their economically-challenged towns. Four of the ten towns represented at the meeting have AMA chapters that I advise.

It got me thinking about the toll self-loathing takes when residents become discouraged and despair over the loss of jobs and population in their town. I see this in talking to the AMA chapter Presidents who become frustrated when they have board members who complain about how things are without offering solutions to the economic problems which result in marketers being laid off, which affects the membership rolls of these chapters as these volunteers can't afford to renew their membership dues. Marketers are among the best (or worst) at generating buzz. This can work to your advantage when things are going great. But when things are bad, as they have been in our society the past year, it can make a bad situation worse.

The meetings business, which helps pay my bills faces the same situation. No one wants to travel to a destination that is in decline. A bad economy in their mind also translates into a desperate citizenry which can fuel concerns about safety and other matters.

It seems to me that while problems that each of our cities face (plodding decision-making by leaders, bad local economic policies, etc.) can't and shouldn't be ignored, residents should think about victories that have occurred recently in their city (a new business relocating there, a national award won by the chamber of commerce). More importantly, if they don't like something that is happening in their city or neighborhood, they should get involved in the process to make things better. It's easy to get negative and see the things that should be changed before we look at the positive. I think it's importance to achieve a balance and raise our hands to lend a hand to further progress.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Super Region Talk Resurfaces

A panel discussion I attended this week hosted by the Cincinnati Business Courier (the local weekly business tabloid) revived talk of a super region linking Cincinnati and Dayton. The speakers discussed the types of industries that are good fits for the region (logistics, medical distribution, space medicine, etc.). Information such as this is useful for future planning for my employer, the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau. As the Bureau analyzes burgeoning industries coming to our area, it creates opportunities to host associations that promote those industries. If economic development officials are looking at coaxing companies in a particular field here, words filters around the industry that our region might be a good place to consider having a future annual meeting. Transportation in general seems to be an untapped market given the comments of the panelists who point to the I-75 corrider (the most traveled north/south interstate in the eastern half of the US), the Ohio River, as well as potential rail routes. This trend bears watching by local convention leaders.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Travel Centers tell the story

The gentleman who runs the Kentucky Welcome Center in Florence and is one of the biggest tourism advocates in NKY has some interesting insights into 2009 vacation migration patterns. Jeff Thoke says they are noticing more travelers opting for extended weekend getaways, shorter in duration from what has been seen in the past. Theory is the tight economy is prompting this as well as work demands increasing. For instance, if you work for a company that has laid off people that generally means you are doing the work of two or three people. Jeff says people's length of time away prompts the idea that some are using psychological means to making short vacations seem longer. In the typical situation he encounters people leaving home for vacation on a Thursday or Friday and driving back through on a Monday, creating two shorter work weeks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Swine Flu Scare Creates Resentment

As if the meetings industry doesn't have enough to worry about.

First it was the economy. Then it was the congressional outcry against incentives meeting brought on by the AIG controversy. The latest crucible facing convention planners is the swine flu outbreak. The World Health Organization declared an H1N1 flu pandemic today-- the first global flu epidemic in 41 years. Nearly 30,000 cases have been reported in the US, Europe, Australia, South American and elsewhere. This will speed up the funding of research into and hopefully production of a vaccine as well as money for containment.

Proper perspective and restraint is required here. The WHO reports 141 people have died from the flu with only 27 perishing domestically (the other 117 were from Mexico). Seasonal flu kills half a million people annually. When is the last time the press reported this disparity. Certainly, precautions should be made to enhance the risk of spreading the deadly virus. Wall Street Journal editorial writer Daniel Henninger says there is great concern in the use of pandemic, particularly as the media uses the term in future reporting (

I attended a convention of convention publicists last month in Kansas City. There was no shortage of hand-wringing over the media glare over this issue. Today's news will not help the situation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

NKY Development Project Enhances Destination Stamp

I recently heard a presentation on a multi-million dollar development project that should give Northern Kentucky another means of attracting visitors and investors. Manhattan Harbour is planned for Dayton, KY along the Ohio River and covers 143 acres, stretching more than a mile-and a half and will include residential, commercial and retail space as well as a marina with spa and fitness center along with a 160-room hotel, a concert stage, restaurants and shops. Even more tantalizing is the fact that this development will be a showcase of technological advances using "smart" technology to improve the lives of residents and visitors. The project should be completed in the next two to five years. This will be a dynamic venue to show off to tourists and convention guests.