“It’s crucial that we continue to advocate for
Brand USA….It’s critical that we have a seat at the table.” These were
Nan Marchand Beauvois’ opening comments as the keynote speaker at the
3rd Annual Industry Xchange, held on July 9 at Navy Pier. She is the
Senior Director, National Council Relations, at U.S. Travel Association.
The event for meetings and hospitality professionals was organized by
Meeting Professionals International, Chicago Area Chapter (MPI-CAC),
and many industry partners, including GMC-PCMA. Thirty-eight GMC-PCMA
members were among the 500 attendees.
Brand USA encourages increased international visitation to the U.S. to
grow America’s share of the global travel market. This translates into
jobs essential for the American economy. (Note: On July 23, the Travel
Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014, which would
reauthorize Brand USA to continue its work, cleared the Senate Commerce
Beauvois described the recent meeting between President Barack Obama
and U.S. Travel’s CEO Roundtable. The CEOs shared their concerns about
the need for infrastructure improvements and the negative impact on
international travel to the U.S. without improvements.
“In 10 years, everyday traffic will look like Labor Day,” she said.
“This will negatively affect tourism and jobs. It is crucial to improve
“Some airports will have everyday traffic similar to Thanksgiving in
two years,” she continued. The U.S. needs to “modernize airports and
improve stagnant infrastructure.” Dubai has the highest-rated airport
in the world. The U.S. fell from #1 to #24 in transportation
infrastructure. Other nations are investing in their infrastructure
while the U.S. lags behind, resulting in the lowered rating.
International travelers might opt to visit other countries (and spend
their travel dollars) where travel is easier.
Beauvois said that Americans are frustrated by air travel, and that
impacts the economy by discouraging travel. Increasing transparency for
rate comparison is one targeted improvement.
U.S. Travel is partnering with Building America’s Future to promote a
new free app called “I’m
Users who are stuck in highway traffic, on a tarmac,
or delayed by a train can click on the location where they are stuck,
and the app immediately communicates directly to their elected
officials. “The more they hear from their constituents, the likelier
they are to act” and fund needed improvements, Beauvois said.
Beauvois noted that travel benefits the brain, health, and the economy.
She reported that the latest Travel
study found that “42% of Americans don’t take their
paid time off, leaving 429 million days of paid time off on the table.
This amounts to 3.2 days for each employee. If everyone took one more
day off a year, this would translate into $30 million in travel spend.”
She also stressed the importance of meetings to the economy and the
need for the meetings and hospitality industry to be proactive about
broadcasting this message. In 2009, meetings associations joined
together in an initiative called Meetings Mean Business (MMB). MMB is
an information platform that highlights industry’s role and develops
messaging about the impact of meetings on businesses, economies and
communities. The group has prepared an MMB Toolkit, available through a
. “This is about messaging,” Beauvois said.
The program continued with a panel of local industry experts. Katie
Callahan-Giobbi from Minding Your Business moderated the session.
Grusich, Senior Vice President, Associated Luxury Hotels
Julie Larson, McDonald’s Corporation
Patricia Perez, Director of the Dominican Republic Tourism Board in
Chris Perry, Area Director of Sales & Marketing, Hiltons of
Alec Rosofsky, Assistant Director, Division of Professional
Development, American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE)
Deborah Sexton, President & CEO, PCMA
Sue Tinnish, Ph.D., Dean, Kendall College School of Hospitality
Paul Van Deventer, President & CEO, Meeting Planners
An audience survey identified two of the most pressing issues facing
industry professionals: increased expectations and doing more with
less. These issues helped frame the panelists’ observations. Here is a
- Members lost during the recession aren’t necessarily
returning. They’ve found other solutions.
- Budgets are not increasing, but there must be “newness” and
innovation. Three days out of the office must be well spent.
- Clients are looking for sustainability.
- Meetings aren’t back yet, partly because the younger
generations have different expectations. Engagement is different now.
- The older generation used to value “expert opinion,” but
now the expert might be the person next to you.
- Content drives everything today.
- Marketing and branding are critical. Use different
marketing methods to convey your message.
The panel had this advice for new hospitality professionals:
- Join professional organizations.
- Get involved – serve on a committee.
- Learn as much as you can. Don’t be in a hurry to impress
- Develop relationships with suppliers.
- Relationships expose you to diversity in business.