Why Boycotting Destinations Can Be Bad for Meetings

Destinations International' s Jack Johnson lays out the alternatives to boycotting destinations over political or ethical concerns.

Call it the great divide: From North Carolina's bathroom bill in 2016 to Alabama's abortion ban passed this past May, a number of controversial measures have torn America apart, sparking staunch approval on one side and bitter condemnation and a call for action on the other. Often this action has taken the form of a boycott, with organizations refusing to conduct business - including holding meetings - in a given state.

While many say such boycotts are an effective way to push back against what are viewed as rigidly constrictive policies, others have raised concerns about the unintended consequences such moves can cause and have urged organizations to find alternative ways to express their dissatisfaction.

One prominent opponent of travel boycotts is Destinations International, the association of destination marketing organizations (aka convention and visitor bureaus), which has labeled that method of protest as the "weaponization of travel," and unfair to the city and/or state under siege.

DI's chief advocacy officer, Jack Johnson, has overseen a wealth of research on the efficacy of and attitudes toward boycotts, most recently releasing a pair of toolkits - one for destinations, one for meeting planners - laying out action plans for combating such actions or redirecting protesting efforts elsewhere. M&C spoke with Johnson about his efforts and why he maintains that boycotts are bad for everyone. (And be sure to read our roundtable discussion on the legal and contractual ramifications of cancelling a meeting on moral grounds.)

Read more about this at NorthstarMeetingsGroup.com.