EIBTM Live: JMIC's Rod Cameron Talks Events, Economic Development and Changing Perception
At EIBTM in Barcelona, IMR’s James Latham sat down with Rod Cameron of the Joint Meetings Industry Council to get a pulse on the overall state of the worldwide MICE scene and the JMIC’s initiatives to promote the industry.
Cameron has been working to position industry in alignment with economic development rather than as a feeder of tourism. “It’s an ongoing process,” Cameron said, “and it’s not anything that’s going to be achieved overnight.” There are two elements involved in convincing governments of the value of the MICE industry, he added: The first is what the industry has been doing for years in just hosting events and supporting local economies; the second is how circumstances are evolving in ways that allow the industry to access better opportunities and more channels for communication. In that respect, he said, the biggest angle is the huge and growing appreciation of the role that the meetings industry is playing in the broader economic development...all over the world. “If anything, it’s even more pronounced in developing countries that are thinking process through and realizing that the attractiveness of the industry and the role that it can play in bringing attention to their communities, to their cities; and the role that it can play in helping them position themselves in those sectors that they want to pursue for broader economic reasons.”
In spite of increased awareness of business travel’s impact on a destination’s economy, tourism boards still struggle to convey the benefits of meetings and events to a broader audience. Again, Cameron cited two forces as driving this effort to create a tide that raises all ships: One is the way in which the interest from those destinations is being shaped by new conditions, while the other is an increased awareness of the importance that the industry be perceived as an economic driver. “Meetings and conventions cannot be seen anymore as simply being an excuse for a bit of a getaway around which you wrap a little bit of education to justify the whole thing,” Cameron said. This new fiscal discipline is reshaping how destinations and individual events present themselves.
The JMIC is looking at a range of organizations with “credibility and authority” in terms of economic development, Cameron continued, and is trying to recruit senior organizers from around the world. The association is also working with governments, “encouraging them to adopt our message so we all say the same thing,” he said.