New Council to Address Meetings Shortfalls

The U.S. Travel Association is enhancing its advocacy activities on behalf of the meetings, incentives and trade shows industries. Included is the creation of a new board member council that will build a proactive research, communications, government relations and promotion agenda. Participants include agents, top hotels and destinations.

The Meetings, Incentives and Trade Show Council (MIT) held its first strategy session on March 2. The group challenged U.S. Travel to become a powerful collective voice for the industry and build capabilities that add to the activities of other meetings-related associations.

"The critical meetings, incentives and trade shows industries need a collective voice and U.S. Travel is excited to build on its 2009 successes," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "We will strive to ensure that the attacks of 2009 never again take place and that the value of this industry is finally understood."

The Council's initial goals include:

*    Establishing the value of meetings, incentives and trade shows in the minds of opinion leaders, policymakers and business leaders
*    Driving a proactive legislative agenda that increases domestic meetings, incentives and trade show activity
*    Creating new industry advocates and allies
*    Expanding the U.S. Travel Political Action Committee to include significant contributions from the meetings, incentives and trade shows industry.

"U.S. Travel is the only trade organization that brings together destinations and corporations and spans meetings, incentives and trade shows. We're now positioned to take advantage of U.S. Travel's unique research, communications and legislative capabilities to further promote the value of our industry," said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Maritz Travel and co-chair of the MIT Council. "The pressing need to ensure meetings, incentives and trade shows are seen as an essential part of doing business requires that we have all hands on deck and be working in a coordinated way throughout the industry.”

"U.S. Travel demonstrated its unique ability to defend and promote our industry in Washington and beyond," said Larry Luteran, senior vice president of group sales and industry relations for Hilton Worldwide and co-chair of the council. "Working with the best minds in the industry, this council will help to align industry-wide activities and ensure a better operating environment."

U.S. Travel will develop a blueprint that clearly defines the industry's short and long-term goals as well as hire an individual to manage the council and its initiatives on a daily basis.

Participants on the council include:

Christine Duffy - Maritz Travel (co-chair)
Larry Luteran - Hilton Worldwide (co-chair)
George Aguel - Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Fay Beauchine - Carlson Marketing Worldwide
Richard Harper - MGM Mirage
Steve Heitzner - Marriott International, Inc.
Ty Helms - Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Susan Helstab - Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Christie Hicks - Starwood Hotels and Resorts
Tom Mahoney - ITA Group, Inc.
Mike Massari - Harrah's Entertainment
Steve MooreGreater Phoenix CVB
Tim Roby - Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau
Gary Sain - Orlando/Orange County CVB
Jeff Senior - Fairmont Hotels and Resorts



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