by Kaylee Hultgren | December 16, 2009

In a virtual press conference that took place yesterday, the Convention Industry Council and several of its key association members announced two major initiatives: a grass-roots industry campaign designed to promote the benefits of meeting face-to-face, and the launch of a major study on the economic impact of the meetings and events industry. The campaign, to launch in January 2010, will be dubbed "Face Time. It Matters" and will consist of marketing tools for trade publications, members' websites, trade and partner advertising, and industry shows and events. The initiative was developed in response to a recent national survey of corporate and association meeting planners that cited image, publicity or public policy concerns as a reason for booking fewer meetings and events in 2010. The second piece of news came from an alliance of CIC members -- the American Society of Association Executives, Destination Marketing Association International, Meeting Professionals International, Professional Convention Management Association, U.S. Travel Association, International Special Events Society, American Hotel and Lodging Association, Site, Convention Industry Council and Association of Destination Management Executives -- that are funding an economic impact study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The project's aim is to provide definitive, quantitative research that addresses the value and contribution of the U.S. meetings, exhibition and event industries to the economy as a whole as well as to the travel and tourism sectors. The yearlong study will survey several groups, including association and meeting planners, meeting delegates, exhibitors, venue managers and destination management organizations. A full report is expected to be released in October 2010. According to Deborah Sexton, president and CEO of PCMA, "We are responding to what has been one of the most challenging years that I can remember. First, we recognized that we needed to do something about the messaging, since the industry was being misunderstood. Our second challenge was that we did not have enough quality research to demonstrate the economic impact of meetings. The industry has come together; we're united, and we feel strongly about the initiatives."