Majority feel optimistic; meeting & event numbers plus budgets expected to increase slightly
Keeping its finger on the pulse of the current mood and business potential within the North American meetings, events and incentive travel industry, IMEX America today announced results from its latest Index of Optimism survey. With the show’s first principle being business generation, the Index of Optimism, which was conducted in March 2013, asked just over 400 North American respondents (70% buyers and 30% suppliers) to share how they felt about the meetings industry’s business prospects over the coming months. Read More...
Make the Case for Travel Reforms During August Recess
As Congress heads home for the August recess period, many members will be conducting town halls and district meetings to hear their constituents’ views on a variety of issues, and most notably, immigration reform. In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included several positive reforms that will reduce barriers to travel and get more people traveling to and within the United States. The fate of immigration reform now hinges on the House of Representatives, where the immigration debate has proceeded more incrementally on a series of smaller bills. As House leadership weighs whether and how to move forward on immigration reform when they come back to Washington in the fall, members will be turning to constituents during the recess, August 5 – September 6, to hear their views on the matter. Read more...
LODGING INDUSTRY TOUTS ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF TRAVEL AND TOURISM AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING
Washington, D.C. – May 7, 2013 – Two key members of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) are set to testify this morning at a hearing of the Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Kathleen Matthews, executive vice president and chief global communications and public affairs officer, Marriott International, Inc., and Lori Gaytan, senior vice president Americas, HR and Global Reward, InterContinental Hotels Group, are serving as witnesses at the hearing.
The hearing, “Vacation Nation: How Tourism Benefits Our Economy,” has been convened by Subcommittee Chairman Lee Terry (R-NE) to address the significant impacts of the travel and tourism industry on the economies of all 50 states and the United States. Matthews and Gaytan are appearing on the first panel.
“It is crucial that Congress continue advocating travel and tourism policies that promote job growth and increase our economy’s strength and competitiveness,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president and CEO. “Expansion of the Visa Waiver Program and implementation of the provisions of the JOLT Act, among many other steps the House and Senate can take, will yield significant benefits for our industry and provide greater incentives for tourists to come to the front doors of our member hotels, inns, and resorts.”
Travel and tourism is one of the key drivers of the U.S. economy, directly supporting more than 7.5 million jobs, including 1.8 million hotel property workers. The industry pays $194.6 billion in travel-related wages and salaries, accounts for $124 billion in federal, state, and local taxes, and generates more than $813 billion in sales. For every 35 tourists who come to this country, one job is created.
“Today’s hearing is a clear signal of the positive influence AH&LA and our members have had on educating Congress about our industry’s economic impact,” continued Lugar. “We thank Chairman Terry for his continuing leadership in this important area.”
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Travel Industry Creates 81,000 Jobs in 2012
Washington, D.C. – David Huether, senior vice president of economics and research at the U.S. Travel Association, provides analysis on today's Labor Department report on December 2012 employment numbers: "After consistently adding jobs during the prior 12 months, travel industry employment edged down in December, falling by 2,900 jobs. However, one month does not make a trend and the travel industry remains a significant job creator for our nation's economy, adding 81,000 jobs in 2012. "Currently employing 7.6 million Americans, the travel industry added more jobs last year than many other industries including educational services, real estate, construction, utilities, information, and mining. Creating jobs 14 percent faster than the rest of the economy, the travel industry has recovered 61 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession compared to 54 percent in the rest of the economy. "The travel industry provides a solid path to a middle-class lifestyle for millions of Americans. U.S. Travel's latest jobs report shows that travel is a top 10 employer of middle-class wage earners in the United States, with more than half of all travel employees earning a middle-class salary or higher."
Travel Industry Continues to Put Americans Back to Work Job Creation Outpaces Rest of Economy by Nearly 30 %
“The U.S. travel industry continues to spur our nation’s economic recovery by putting Americans back to work, adding 7,000 new jobs in August. Not only did these jobs contribute to lowering the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent, but this also marks the ninth consecutive month of positive growth in travel employment. Total travel industry employment now stands at 7.6 million, the highest level since November 2008. Read more...
2012 Indicators of Job Outlook for Meeting and Event Planners
Job Outlook for US Event Planners US Department of Labor April job numbers are a mixed bag. While jobs are still being added, the rate of job growth appears to be slowing down. There have also been reports that many unemployed workers have stopped looking. What are the implications for event planners and other event industry professionals? For the current decade, The U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook has forecasted a much better than average job outlook for event planners. "Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is expected to grow 44 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. As globalization increases and businesses continue to recognize the value of professionally planned meetings, the need for meetings and events is expected to grow." Read More - Ann Thornley-Brown
Summer Travel Outlook Brightens: New Survey Reveals Record Gains In Leisure Travel Intentions WASHINGTON, DC – For the second consecutive year, the outlook for summer travel continues to brighten with more than three in five U.S. adults (64%), or an estimated 154 million Americans, planning on taking at least one trip for leisure purposes during the next six months. The percentage of Americans planning to travel between May and October is up from 61 percent last April and 56 percent in April 2010. Read More...
CEOs from the nation’s largest travel companies met with senior Administration officials in the White House today to express support for President Obama’s national travel and tourism strategy and urged policies and initiatives that would further economic growth and job creation in the nation’s $1.9 trillion travel industry, which supports 14.4 million U.S. jobs. “President Obama’s call for a national travel and tourism strategy was one of the most significant developments for our industry in the past decade,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “The travel industry has the ability – and stands ready – to quickly hire many of the unemployed workers in our country, but to do that we must have policies in place that increase travel to and within the United States. This Administration and most in Congress understand that, and we look forward to bipartisan support for legislation that supports America’s travel industry.” Read More:
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) today announced support for the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act or JOLT Act.
The bipartisan JOLT Act was introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mark Kirk (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Lee (R-UT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The legislation will make it easier for international visitors to come to the United States by reforming the visa process, lengthening visa validity, expediting entry for priority visitors, and expanding the visa waiver program. “International travelers want to visit America and we should welcome them with open arms,” said AH&LA President/CEO Joe McInerney. “The Jolt Act puts a priority on easing many of the antiquated rules slowing down the process in obtaining travel visas. Passing this legislation will significantly boost the U.S. economy and benefit every community across the country.” America's burdensome visa process drives millions of international visitors to other countries at an enormous cost to our economy. Even as world travel grew by more than 60 million travelers between 2000 and 2010, the U.S. share remained essentially flat. As a result, our economy lost $606 billion in total spending from 78 million additional visitors – enough to support 467,000 more jobs annually. By regaining America’s pre-9/11 share of international travel, the United States could create up to 1.3 million new U.S. jobs and produce $859 billion in cumulative additional economic output. As AH&LA has relayed to Congress, increasing travel to the United States is the most effective form of economic stimulus – creating millions of new American jobs, adding billions to the U.S. economy, and benefitting every community around the country.
The Rundown: Some would call this a logistical nightmare: 49,000 registrants. 2,098 music festival showcases. 1,221 conference sessions. 1,096 exhibit spaces. 293 film festival screenings. But for Mike Shea, executive director of the popular South by Southwest (SXSW) annual conference and festival in Austin, Texas, orchestrating an event of this magnitude has become second-nature, although it's not without its fair share of harebrained headaches. "One year, massive downpours turned a grassy park into muck and mire, threatening two days of free concerts," recalls Shea. "We decided to blanket the park with hay and we paced the park from end to end and arbitrarily determined that 10 steps equaled one bale of hay. To remove the muddy hay afterwards our solution was [to use] homeless men with pitchforks—four words your insurance company doesn't want to hear." Read more…
Following three consecutive years of reported decline, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has good news to share in its 2011 Index: industry activity increased by 2.7 percent for the year, surpassing the growth of real GDP, which rose by 1.7 percent. Fourth quarter activity bumped up 3.8 percent compared to the same period 2010, with increases in all four CEIR metrics: net square feet (a 4.2 percent increase), revenue (5.1 percent), professional attendance (3.6 percent) and number of exhibiting companies (2.4 percent). Read More:
Despite falling profits, slashed bonuses and layoffs, Wall Street banks don't appear to be curbing spending at luxury hotels, a key hotel industry CEO says. One analyst on Tuesday asked Host Hotels CEO Ed Walter whether he's seeing any "sensitivity" from financial services companies around booking luxury chains such as Marriott's Ritz-Carlton. The question was posed during Host Hotels' fourth-quarter earnings call. Read More
The Importance of Face to Face Meetings
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks have revolutionized the way we interact with one another, deconstructed physical barriers and flattened our world. At the same time, smartphones with location based services have taken over; analysts project that by 2015 more people will access the internet from their mobile than from a PC. At first glance, these two phenomena seem to contradict each other. If we’re spending more of our time living in a virtual world, why are we investing so heavily in technology intended to improve our “real lives”? Read More...
IMEX America: rumours of the demise of the trade show greatly exaggerated.
In the euphoric after-glow of IMEX America Lindsay Fultz’s provocative piece on why she doesn’t attend, exhibit or sponsor trade shows and events provides a nice counter-point [access here]. Now Marketing Manager for LoveIt, an LA based technology start up (looks like Pinterest to me) Fultz spent about 5 years in and around the meetings and events industry and, judging from her blog-post, knows it well. Read More…
Throwing Events Under a BIG Moving Bus
As anyone who is familiar with the event industry knows, the recession has been tough on our business in more ways than one... So, it was with complete and utter shock that I started seeing a series of Tweets going out by a virtual event company called ON24 with messages such as:
Travel Industry Creating Jobs 26 Percent Faster Than Rest of Economy
“The Labor Department reported today that the economy added just 80,000 new jobs in June, similar to the revised 77,000 gain in May. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained perched at 8.2 percent for a second consecutive month. After creating 226,000 jobs per month in the first quarter, the economy was only able to boost employment by an average of 75,000 per month in the second quarter. And, while some of this deceleration was due to an unseasonably warm winter, there's no denying that the recovery is in a soft patch. “The slowdown has also extended to the travel sector of the economy, where after creating more than 13,000 jobs per month in the first quarter, travel jobs edged up just 2,600 per month in the second quarter, including an increase of just 1,300 in June to 7.6 million. “Still, it is important to note that since the employment recovery began in March of 2011, the travel industry has created 271,000 new jobs and has created jobs at a pace that has been 26 percent faster than the rest of the economy.
Call Your Regional GSA Administrator to Oppose Changes to Government Per Diem Rates
THE PROBLEM: Following the General Services Administration (GSA) conference scandal, the federal government is continuing to consider proposals that would reduce federal travel budgets and potentially harm the travel industry. One proposal under serious consideration would reduce per diem rates in major travel markets by upwards of 30 percent. This could have significant and long-lasting economic impacts on government and private sector business travel. Each year, GSA adjusts the lodging per diem rates in 400 separate markets in the U.S. by using Smith Travel Research (STR) data for mid-scale/mid-price hotels. GSA calculates the lodging per diem for each market by using the average daily rates of independent, midscale, upscale, and upper upscale properties over a one year period (from April to March of the previous two years). By eliminating “upper upscale hotel rates” from the data used to calculate the lodging per diem, the government would reduce the absolute amount it is willing to reimburse a federal employee for lodging. This would have wide-ranging impacts on business travel across the United States. While the GSA conference scandal focused on federal meetings and conferences, a lowering of the lodging per diem rate would impact government group and transient travel. Because private sector companies and government contractors routinely base their reimbursement rates on the government per diem, revenue from private sector business travel could also significantly decline over the next year. Although they haven’t made a decision yet, they are planning on releasing next fiscal year’s rates on time which means that a decision is imminent. TAKE ACTION! Call and email the GSA regional administrator in your area IMMEDIATELY and express your concerns about a plan that will significantly reduce per diem rates nationwide. Then, call your members of Congress and express your concern to them as well.
Hard lessons in unintended consequences - The GSA Western Regions Conference
Merton’s Law An infestation of mink was playing havoc with the eco-system of a rural area so, to encourage a proactive community response, the local authorities instituted a bounty of $5 for each mink turned in at the local sheriff’s office. The scheme was successful and after a month or so the evidence of mink had decreased dramatically. However, despite the obvious decrease, some local farmers continued to turn in significant number of mink against the $5 bounty. Eventually the authorities discovered why. Certain farmers were actually breeding the mink to claim the bounty. This is a perfect example of what sociologist Robert K Merton called “the law of unintended consequences” – you build a plan to prevent or stop something and end up causing a bigger problem. Read the rest - by Padraic Gilligan, VP, Industry Relations MCI and VP Ovation Global DMC
The rancor over the General Service Administration's (GSA) irresponsible behavior continues to mount. Committees on Capitol Hill held back-to-back hearings on Monday and Tuesday examining the October 2010 GSA Las Vegas conference and other inappropriate spending. These were the first of four hearings scheduled this week on the GSA conference issue. The Senate today held the first of two hearings on the topic. In both House hearings, it was encouraging that the overall dialogue did not revolve around the value of conferences or meetings, although a select few members did express support for restricting government travel. Members of Congress focused most of their attention on lavish expenditures by a small group of GSA employees, failures to follow federal travel regulations, insufficient oversight and disciplinary actions by GSA leadership and a lack of transparency in GSA's budget. Read more...
The problem with meetings and why you should care
Group meetings, conferences, and trade shows are very important pieces of your property's business. However, even though the economy is on the upswing, we are not out of the woods yet. Threats abound when booking hotel group business. The US Travel Association has identified the following 3 obstacles to meetings:
Corporate and Government Discouragement of Travel. In 2009, President Obama's comments that discouraged travel to Las Vegas had an estimated effect on the industry of $10 billion in that year alone. Add on the "AIG effect" in the same year and the "$16 muffin" last year and the industry has taken a real beating. Read More... Dede Mulligan
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