by Sarah J.F. Braley | April 01, 2010

Last month, the U.S. Travel Association created the Meetings, Incentives and Trade Show Council to continue its effort, launched in 2009, to tell the world the value of the events industry.

The new body, which aims to support the industry through lobbying, research and communications, is made up of 15 top-level players and is co-chaired by Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Maritz Travel, and Larry Luteran, senior vice president of group sales and industry relations for Hilton Worldwide.

"The creation of this council is a natural outgrowth of the challenges and successes of 2009," said Geoff Freeman, senior vice president of USTA. "Does the industry have the wherewithal to keep this up? The worst that can happen is if we treat 2009 as an anomaly and go back to business as usual."

Freeman pointed to several achievements realized from last year's efforts. "The most important one was giving this industry a sense of confidence, a sense that when we rally together and speak with one voice, we can get things done," he said.

He also touted the industry's ability to stop five different pieces of legislation, whose aims were to curb meetings and incentives and keep government employees from gathering in destinations such as Las Vegas and Orlando.

The first order of business for the new council will be to define the industry's short- and long-term goals for communicating about meetings, incentives and trade shows. A person will be hired to manage the council and its initiatives.