I was really concerned that our industry would try to brush its most recent meetings scandal under the rug. I'm really glad it's not. (If you've been under a rock this week, see this Washington Post article.)
The U.S. Travel Association has issued its response to a scathing report on an October 2010 government conference, acknowledging the clear instances of inappropriate spending and urging federal lawmakers to carry out an appropriate response.
This is exactly what our industry needs to say. We need to make it known that this meeting was clearly the result of very poor decision making, and not a representation of how meetings can or should be run. As MPI completes its research into the Business Value of Meetings and its complementing set of tools that will help planners measure their success (due out at AIBTM June 19-21 in Baltimore), we know that it is more important than ever to insist that meetings like the one in 2010 are simply no longer acceptable (if they ever were at all).
Every meeting that is held—from board retreat to sales incentive to global all-staff to trade conference to edu-fam—MUST have specified purpose and objectives, metrics by which to judge success, accurate and open analysis and reporting and ultimately review and improvement. This we know. And it very clearly did not happen at the biennial conference hosted by the U.S. General Service Administration’s western affiliates.
Here, the U.S. Travel Association's response:
"The American people demand two things of their government: to be responsible stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars and to provide valuable services that benefit this country. Federal travel, when conducted responsibly, fulfills both of those promises. Unfortunately, a single instance of irresponsible decision making has the potential to cast a negative light on the millions of men and women who work every day to make America's meetings, conventions and events industry the best in the world. It is important to remember that this particular event was the result of a failure to follow federal travel regulations that were already in place to protect the misuse of taxpayer funds."
A big thank you to U.S. Travel. You make us proud.