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Digesting the $16 muffin issue

Reading JoAnne Allen’s report via Reuters on Wednesday, Sept. 21 about the US Department of Justice audit that “showed” an itemization for a meeting indicated the department paid $16 per item for 250 muffins created many reactions here at MPI headquarters and resoundingly throughout our membership. We have to be careful - one line item plucked from a bill on any event or meeting can be just as out of context as a line randomly pulled from a speech.  

What we find sadly lacking in the discourse around this story are issues like – what were the return on the objectives and investments in these meetings, where is the strategic meetings (event portfolio) management for the Department of Justice, the significant value and cost savings of utilizing professional event planning services and agencies.

We encourage our members, industry colleagues and friends in the hospitality and travel industry to speak out against knee-jerk, sweeping assumptions to the value of a meeting based on one line-item description.  Let’s have robust, informed discussions on how to take the skills and best practices that insure success in meetings and events, and give them the attention they need in the C-suites in the private and public sectors that will dissuade these assumptions in the future.

Given the $263 billion and the 1.7 million jobs the meeting and event industry provides the United States economy we encourage our government and all businesses to continue to meet responsibly.

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Here is the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Report.

Additionally, here is an article by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones explaining the "Myth of the $16 Muffin".

Note: MPI collaborates on endorsing the importance of meetings and their economic impact with U.S. Travel Association, ASAE, Convention Industry Council, American Hotel & Lodging Association, and Destination Marketing Association International and other industry partners and other associations. 

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