Last Friday, US Travel CEO and President Roger Dow sent an email to his members sounding the alarm: “Needless to say,” Dow declared, after describing the looming threats, “these developments could have a significant impact on the federal government’s ability to host and participate in conferences. In addition, these amendments could impact private sector conferences that include government speakers or attendees, and discourage necessary dialogues between the public and private sectors.”
“We are working with all relevant Congressional offices in hopes the amendments can be revised as these bills move through the legislative process,” the email alert continued. “While supporters of the legislation argue the amendments on government conferences could save millions of dollars, this broad-brush approach to government meetings and conferences casts unjustified skepticism toward the value of all government travel. At the same time, the millions of travel employees who support meetings and events would undoubtedly be affected by the possible cutbacks.”
So who’s doing this lobbying, and what are their best arguments about what Dow’s email calls “the value of meetings, conferences and government travel”? Who are the go-to members of the Senate and House who are most sympathetic to the industry? (Dow’s email hints at one: Nevada Democratic Representative and Senate candidate Shelley Berkley, who, he reports, has introduced a bill to “ensure that Las Vegas is not blacklisted for future meetings and conferences,” whatever that means.)
And while we’re on the subject, the same email reported that US Travel was partnering in its lobbying efforts with one group called the Society of Government Travel Professionals and another called the Society of Government Meeting Planners. What are their conferences like? And just finding out how many members they have (and which vendors, if any, buy sponsorships of their meetings) might also be a fun story.