In Defense of Meetings Industry, NBTA Helps Planners Write to Congress

Concerned about the way that the public perceives them, the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) has released a statement in support of corporate meetings and events, it announced last week, adding that it is empowering the industry with a new online tool for communicating with Congress.

In order to turn the tide on public criticism, the association has called for the meetings industry to band together in order to communicate to Congress the economic value of face-to-face meetings, and to shift the focus away from canceling meetings and toward managing meeting spend.

"NBTA is alarmed by the negative portrayal of the meetings industry and fears Congressional actions that may cripple the travel industry and the economy as a whole," NBTA President and CEO Kevin Maguire, CCTE, GLP, said in a statement. "Corporate travel professionals have made travel for meetings and events a cost effective tool that help businesses grow, and Congress must be educated on the importance of managed travel and the benefits it brings."

In order to assist industry stakeholders in their advocacy efforts, NBTA has created an electronic letter generator at its Web site, www.nbta.org. Located in NBTA's online Legislative Action Center, the generator allows business travel and meetings professionals to customize a letter to their representatives in Congress explaining the importance of managed travel and meetings to individual companies as well as the national economy.

"The introduction of legislation and media driven stories are having a chilling effect on the entire travel community," reads the letter. "As a member of a community that creates $244 billion in spending, 2.4 million America jobs and $39 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level, I hope you will listen to our ideas and suggestions. Let the Treasury Department work with the business travel industry to set guidelines for managed travel. The worst possible step Congress can do now is to ban meetings and conferences. This knee-jerk reaction would not only hurt the targeted companies, it would hurt the entire American economy."

Of special concern, according to NBTA, is legislation introduced recently by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, which would ban companies receiving federal bailout money from hosting, sponsoring or paying for conferences, holiday parties and entertainment events.

"Sen. Kerry's comments and actions are part of a disturbing trend that paints company travel and events as a picture of lavish, unnecessary parties," continues NBTA's templated letter. "When in truth, the vast majority of meetings, conventions and conferences are cost efficient, well planned tools used by companies to drive business and are an economic boon to cities that host the meetings."

To access NBTA's Legislative Action Center and submit a letter to Congress on behalf of the meetings and events industry, visit http://capwiz.com/nbta.