The Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) has agreed to integrate into the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). The decision to bring MMBC under the USTA umbrella, which was formalized during a meeting at IMEX America earlier in November, is expected to bolster MMBC’s mission to lobby for the meetings and events industry as it works to rebuild and recover from pandemic-related deficits.
The meeting and business events segment is one of three top priorities for USTA, along with the rebuilding of international inbound and increasing the already robust return of domestic leisure travel after COVID-19. “The overall recovery of the industry relies, in part, on the swift return of professional meetings and events,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said of the decision to integrate the Meetings Mean Business Coalition into USTA at this critical juncture in time. The integration will enable MMBC to use USTA’s existing network and public affairs resources to assist in that recovery.
Just how important is the meetings and events piece to overall travel recovery in the U.S.? Even though business travel made up just 20% of total trip volume before COVID hit, business travelers accounted for up to 60% of lodging and air revenue. In 2019, this added up to 500 million trips that resulted in $306 billion in total business travel spend, according to the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and USTA. The pandemic hit this segment hard, with an estimated loss of business travel spend in $316 billion range. While U.S. Travel currently is predicting domestic U.S. business travel spend will reach 76% of 2019 levels by the end of next year, this important segment is not expected to fully recover until 2024. International business travel spending is projected to reach 65% of 2019 levels in 2022 and fully recover around 2025. The association is advocating for a set of policies to accelerate the travel industry’s recovery.
“Fully integrating Meetings Mean Business and its scope of work under the U.S. Travel Association umbrella makes great strategic sense, given the level of need and advocacy for the recovery of the meetings and business events travel segment,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO, NYC & Company and co-chair, Meetings Mean Business Coalition. “We are excited to closely align the coalition’s work further within U.S. Travel and its public affairs program.”
Added Michael Massari, Chief Sales Office, Caesars Entertainment and Co-chair of MMBC, “Since its founding, the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and the U.S. Travel Association have been close partners in producing meaningful programs that highlight the value of meetings and business travel events. Taking this next step to integrate resources will further elevate our collective work as we emerge stronger than ever from the pandemic.”
MMBC will continue to advocate for the meetings and events industry under the USTA umbrella, including its signature program, Global Meetings Industry Day, which will next take place April 7, 2022.