Help Others When You 'Give With a Meeting'

In the face of natural-disaster crises in several regions, including Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida, Mexico and the Virgin Islands, we all want to help. While we applaud financial contributions to charitable and faith-based organizations, and other disaster-relief channels that are serving these affected communities and helping those who are impacted, we also should consider the unique opportunity for businesses and organizations to contribute in a particularly meaningful way. One way to mindfully contribute can pay "triple dividends" to the people and businesses in these regions and everyone else involved: Give With a Meeting!

If your company or organization has any upcoming meetings or programs that have not yet been placed and will take place later this year or even within the next 18 months, I encourage your leadership team to consider placing the meeting in a destination that has been affected by a recent natural disaster. As you can imagine, these areas need to get their economies back in gear, put their workers back to work and build their businesses back to full-needed employment. While helping these people, businesses and destinations, your leadership team will be raised up for all of the right reasons.

If you are in the position to do so, I encourage you to talk to your boss, board of directors, constituents, members and/or suppliers, and let them know that you are proactively taking a meeting to an "impacted venue" such as in Southeastern Texas; anywhere throughout the state of Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; or perhaps the Bahamas or Mexico. While the meeting is, of course, primarily for your own business' purposes, it will also make a difference by helping others when they are down.

Placing a new program, or even electing to stay the course with a previously booked meeting, at a most needed time like this fall and winter, and into next year -- when it should be logistically viable and safe for your participants to attend -- will speak volumes about the character of your organization. The destination, hotel, and service-company employees and their families will recognize the support at this challenging time, as well as inspire your staff, attendees and executive committees.

In reflecting upon other challenging times for destinations, I remember when the American Society of Association Executives took its board of directors' meeting to New York City in September 2001, right after 9/11, and maintained its Summit Awards program in Washington, D.C., later in September to achieve record-level attendance and accolades for the courage and leadership. ALHI moved its own Industry Advisory Council meeting to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in recognition and support of the staffs of our hotel community, and it remains as one of our most heartfelt and respected programs in our 30-plus years of conducting the IAC. More recently, we have appreciated prominent groups that remained steadfast to hold their programs in Southern California, despite the fires still raging in that part of the state. These are but a few examples. You can make your own history by deciding to Give With a Meeting.

When you Give With a Meeting, you can write your own group's next chapter and garner triple dividends.

First, of course, are the terrific benefits of the meeting program itself. Meetings are a driving engine advancing business, causes, education, organizations, marketing, marketplaces and so much more. So it is a given that there is full and legitimate cause to convene. That is, of course, the primary dividend and consideration for a program with a content-driven purpose.

The second dividend is the positive impact on your circle of influence, which includes your staff, board of directors, members, company, branches and other service suppliers, who will recognize the meaning of holding a meeting in a venue in difficult circumstances, and recognize the character of your organization, adding to the legacy of how you conduct business.

The third dividend is to those serving throughout your meeting, from arrival at the airport, to the hotel/resort, through departure. People like the bell staff, housekeeping, culinary talent, banquet setup, A/V support, transportation, décor, etc. And don't forget those in area businesses that supply the hotels and also are affected by the volume of meetings and programs, as your meeting brings added business within their community. Ultimately, this goes on to the local economy including grocery stores and service vendors utilized by these employees. Each of these individuals, their families and the community will positively benefit by your program being held at that venue. They want to get back to work to host your group and are very eager to serve. Your attendees will have a great experience, undeterred by past circumstances, by your content and the brightness and real contributions they bring to the lives of many of those affected.

While the golf course at your destination might have a few less trees (in your way, anyway), in its place you will see big smiles and appreciation for giving. I encourage you to reach out to your national and/or global sales organization and book a program soon in an impacted destination. Everyone will feel good about it!

David Gabri is chairman of Associated Luxury Hotels, a global sales organization serving the hospitality industry and the parent company of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) and WorldHotels. Collectively, Associated Luxury Hotels embodies more than 600 luxury-level hotels and resorts around the world that are mostly independently owned or operated.