I have been back home for just over two months now, and one of the first things that struck me is that there is hardly any difference between London (where I grew up) and New York City (where I lived for 19 years until this March), two internationally focused, multicultural metropolises. One exact correlation is the free Metro newspaper that litters both National Rail/tube trains here and Long Island Rail Road/Metro North/subway trains there.
Such similarities have helped me settle back into British life very quickly. In the UK edition today, I saw something else that was familiar. An article hinting for a study into the economic impact of leisure travellers - a rallying cry that I remember MPI in the US making to try and do the same thing for the meetings and conventions industry more than 10 years ago. They were unsuccessful.
MPI (as we reported in M&IT, April 2012) only now has the go-ahead to look into producing one. From the money promised and the sound bites given, it looks as though it might actually happen this time, perhaps by December. Should we hold our breath? Why was this not pushed through years ago? Surely everyone knows it would be in the interests of the entire industry, and it is not as though we would be trying to hoodwink anyone.
Meetings and conventions are the catalyst for an exponential amount of business, related and secondary to the events themselves. So, what took our industry so long?
Is it, as I believe, that any report produced could not be everything to everyone and thus after heated debates and good intentions, any latest attempt would be placed on the highest shelf?
Metro (UK) mentioned this morning in a bite-size piece the economic impact of UK travellers before they leave the United Kingdom. Apparently, holidaymakers contribute £22bn a year in this manner and help employ 2.6 per cent of the British workforce. It might not come as a surprise that a good percentage of that money is spent on duty free, which is why, for example, there might not be any apparent link between a business meeting in Zurich and a bottle of Glenfiddich, but we know better and that there is.
And there is more hope that the notion of economic impact will soon provide more weight for industry insiders. Next Tuesday, 15 May, the Council of Protocol Executives is putting on a London networking breakfast, where Nick de Bois, MP for Enfield North and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Events Industry will discuss the activities of the group and the successes enjoyed by Britain for Events, which raises awareness of the economic benefits delivered by the meetings industry to the UK.
Registration is at http://www.regonline.co.uk/register/checkin.aspx?eventid=1095583&ResponseMemberId=nlO6lnAEZQ7sR7rT7tqpeg==&jID=290594.
A head of steam seems to be building, but why did it all take so long?