Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 04 2013

Associations, Get Ready for 2020

By Carolyn Clark, Vice President, Marketing and Communications

pcma news, international travelAt last week’s World Economic Forum, Hilton and Marriott joined forces to urge international leaders to help eliminate some of the hurdles of international travel. Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide, and Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International, delivered an address that calls for smart visa policies to take hold around the globe by 2020.

“Smart governments are thinking about international travel and tourism as trade, and they are doing everything they can to remove barriers and be more strategic in addressing visas and other access issues that discourage people from traveling and doing business,” Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International, said.

Removing those barriers will clear the path for what many of the leaders at the meeting have been searching for over the past five years: economic prosperity.

“Enabling greater international travel is the low-hanging fruit that can create significant economic growth and employment,” Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide, added.

As the world becomes increasingly borderless, here’s a look at what that will mean for your organization if smart visa policies are the norm by the end of the decade.

Connecting Through More Than Local Chapters

While that economic growth can create new opportunities for associations in new places, Michelle Stoddard Crowley, manager, global development and programs, PCMA, says that doesn’t mean that they must start organizing local chapters around the world.

“For some industries, starting global chapters may be the right model, but you must consider what level of engagement is optimal for these prospective audience members,” Stoddard Crowley advises. “Do you want them to join? Do you want them to come speak? Do you want them to simply attend your big annual meeting?”

At PCMA, Stoddard Crowley says the organization’s globalization strategy focuses on engaging planners and suppliers from around the world -- without the groundwork needed to start a local chapter.

“We aim to develop our industry by inviting different perspectives to join our conversations,” Stoddard Crowley says. “Our focus is education, which can be delivered through multiple channels.”

New Opportunities Bring New Competition

Stoddard Crowley points out that easing the challenges of international travel means that some associations may find organizations in other countries vying for the attention and loyalty of their regular attendees.

“Easing international travel restrictions bring opportunities for growth, but that also means that organizations in other countries will be trying to tap into those same opportunities,” Stoddard Crowley says.

Your long-time attendee base may start receiving more marketing materials from similar meetings and conferences in Europe, Asia and South America. As more countries enact smart visa policies, planners will need to think about how to make their meetings stand out from an even bigger crowd.

Global Is Good

The world’s interconnectedness will bring uncertainties, but the changes will ultimately bring many positives for planners.

“No matter what, expanding smart visas will help ease a barrier for planners that they currently cannot control,” Stoddard Crowley says. “If it’s easier to travel, it increases the potential to attract more attendees wherever you are in the world.”

“Globalization is about expanding your mind, reaching new audiences and understanding new cultures,” Stoddard Crowley says. “Whether you’re selling a product or bringing attendees together, smart visa programs can help accelerate an international idea exchange.”

To learn more about where your organization might find new members, attendees or customers, click here to collect more insights into understanding the global market.l

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