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September 25, 2017

How Meetings Can Help Cope With Natural Disasters

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While destinations in the Caribbean, U.S. and Mexico continue to cope with recent natural disasters, David Gabri, chairman of Associated Luxury Hotels, has released an article on how meeting professionals can help. 

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 definitely applaud financial contributions to charitable and faith-based organizations, and other disaster relief channels that are serving these affected communities and are vital to helping those who are impacted or suffering, shouldn’t we consider the unique opportunity for businesses and organizations to contribute in a particularly meaningful way? There is another way to mindfully contribute that can pay “triple dividends” to the people and businesses in these regions and everyone involved: Give with a Meeting!

If your company or organization has any upcoming meetings or programs which have not yet been placed, and which will take place later this year or even within the next 18 months, then I encourage your leadership team to consider placing your meeting in a destination which 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.
Think about it. We give to charitable organizations, so why not “Give with a Meeting”?

Therefore, 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. First, it is for your original business meeting purposes, but also to make a difference when needed by helping others and businesses when they are down.

By placing a new program, or even electing to stay the course with a previously booked meeting, at a most needed and impactful time like this fall and winter, and into next year -- when it is 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, and you will see that your staff, your attendees and your executive committees will recognize the leadership and character of your company, association, organization or business.

In reflecting upon other challenging times for destinations, I remember when ASAE (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 Industry Advisory Council (IAC) meeting to New Orleans in the aftermath of 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 appreciate prominent groups that remained steadfast to hold their programs in southern California, despite following the fires they faced, only to receive astronomical recognitions from their peers and attendees. These are but a few. You can make your own history by deciding To Give A Meeting.

By Giving A Meeting, you can write your own group’s next chapter.

The resulting “triple dividends” include the terrific benefits of the meeting program itself, the positive impact to your circle of influence, and the much-appreciated and greatly needed support and financial impact that you provide to those serving your meeting.

First, as we know, “Meetings Mean Business” and 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 your circle of influence, which includes your staff, Board of Directors, members, company, branches and other service suppliers, who will recognize the meaning of Giving A Meeting to a venue in difficult circumstances, and recognize the character of your organization and add 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 set-up, A/V support, transportation, décor, etc. Plus, those in area businesses that supply the hotels which also are affected by the volume of meetings and programs, as it brings added business within their community. Ultimately, this goes on to the local economy including grocery stores and elsewhere 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 might have a few less trees (in your way anyway), in its place you will see Bigger Smiles and Appreciation for Giving!

I encourage you to reach out to your National Sales Organization/Global Sales Organization and book a program soon in an impacted destination. The commitment alone is a relief. Everyone will feel good about it!

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