by David Gabri | October 17, 2017
With the natural disaster crises that have occurred in several regions, we all want to help. Financial contributions to charitable and faith-based organizations, and to disaster-relief channels that are serving these affected communities and those who are suffering, are applauded and vital to helping those in need. But are there additional ways that we can assist areas such as southeastern Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida, Mexico, and the Virgin Islands? Yes! Right now is a unique opportunity for businesses, associations, and organizations to contribute in particularly meaningful way: Give with a Meeting.

Does your company, association, or organization have any upcoming meetings or programs in 2017 or 2018 which have not yet been placed? Then I encourage your leadership team to consider placing a meeting in a destination that has been affected by a natural disaster. As you can imagine, these areas need to get their economies back in gear, put their workers back to work, and build their businesses back to full-needed employment. By helping these destinations, their people, and businesses, your leadership team will be raised up for all of the right reasons. 

After all, we give to charitable organizations, so why not "Give with a Meeting"?

So, if you are able to do so, I encourage you to talk to your boss, board of directors, constituents, members, and/or suppliers, and let them know that you are proactively taking a meeting to an "impacted venue" such as in Southeastern Texas; Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Mexico; or perhaps the Bahamas. First, it is for your original business meeting purposes, but also to make a difference by helping others and businesses when they are in need.

By placing a new meeting, or electing to stay with a previously booked program at a much-needed and impactful time like this fall and in 2018 -- when it is logistically viable and safe for your participants to attend -- will speak volumes about the character of your organization. The destination, hotel, and service company employees and their families will recognize the support at this challenging time, and you will see that your staff, your attendees, and your executive committees will recognize the leadership and character of your company, association, organization, or business. 

In recalling other challenging times for destinations, I remember when the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) took its board of directors meeting to New York City in September 2001, right after 9/11, and maintained its Summit Awards program in Washington, D.C. soon after to achieve record-level attendance and recognition for the courage and leadership. Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) moved its Industry Advisory Council (IAC) conference to New Orleans after Katrina, in recognition and support of the staffs of our hotel community, and it remains as one of our most heartfelt and respected programs in our 30-plus years of conducting the IAC. More recently, we appreciate prominent groups that remained steadfast to hold their programs in southern California, despite following the fires the state had, only to receive very positive recognitions from their peers and attendees. These are just a few examples. You can write your own group's next chapter and make your own history by deciding to Give with a Meeting. 

In doing so, this will pay "triple dividends," which includes the terrific benefits of the meeting program itself, the positive impact to your circle of influence, and the much-appreciated and greatly needed support and financial impact that you provide to those serving your meeting. 

First, as we all know, "meetings mean business" and are a driving engine advancing business, causes, education, organizations, marketing, marketplaces, and so much more. So it is a given that there is full and legitimate cause to convene. That is, of course, the primary dividend and consideration for a program, with a content-driven purpose. 

The second dividend is your circle of influence, which includes your staff, board of directors, members, company, branches, and other service suppliers, who will recognize the meaning of Giving with a Meeting to a venue in difficult circumstances, and will appreciate the character of your organization and how you conduct business.

The third dividend is to those serving throughout your meeting -- from arrival at the airport, to the hotel/resort -- through departure. This includes the bell staff, housekeeping, culinary talent, banquet set-up, A/V support, transportation, décor, etc. Plus, those in-area businesses that supply the hotels which also are affected by the volume of meetings and programs, as it brings added business within their community. Ultimately, this goes on to the local economy, including grocery stores and elsewhere utilized by these employees. Each of these individuals, their families, and the community will positively benefit by your program being held at that venue. They want to get back to work to host your group, and are very eager to serve. Your attendees will have a great experience, undeterred by past circumstances, by your content and the real contributions they bring to the lives of many of those affected. 

While the golf course might have fewer trees, in its place you will see big smiles and appreciation for giving! 

I encourage you to reach out to your national sales organization or global sales organization and book a program soon in an impacted destination. The commitment alone is a relief. Everyone will feel good about it!

David Gabri is chairman of Associated Luxury Hotels, the world's leading independent Global Sales Organization serving the hospitality industry and the parent company of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) -- the leader in extraordinary meeting venues -- and WorldHotels. Collectively, Associated Luxury Hotels embodies more than 600 luxury-level hotels and resorts around the world which are mostly independently owned or operated.