The Washington D.C.-based Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) is an advocacy group comprised of some of the biggest brands in hospitality and tourism, with a mandate to promote the ability of meetings and conventions to drive business development.

The MMBC especially targets local, state, and federal governments, globally. If policy-makers understand the overall economic impact of the meetings industry, they’re more likely to dedicate necessary funds to develop urban infrastructure and support marketing initiatives that help attract large conventions to a destination.

To help remind elected leaders that meetings mean business for their communities, the MMBC is launching its biggest ad campaign in its three-year history today, called “Worth Meeting About.”

The promotion was developed to coincide with all of the buzz leading up to the Democratic and Republican national conventions in July.

The main message is: If government officials are always meeting to debate and develop economic policy, they should be supportive of corporations and organizations trying to do the same. Often however, governments divert funds from convention center development and convention bureau budgets toward other government initiatives because they don’t understand the business impact of meetings — and the jobs and taxes derived from them.

“The idea is while all of those policy-makers are together in one place in Philadelphia and Cleveland, we want to take an opportunity to highlight and advertise the importance of meetings,” Michael Dominguez, co-chair of MMBC, told Skift. “We want to remind them that they’re gathering in those cities for a meeting, because their overall objectives are, as we’re saying, ‘Worth Meeting About.'”

But what, exactly, are the challenges here? In every legislative assembly in every city, county, and state government council across America, elected leaders are holding meetings. That’s what they do. Why is there a need to reinforce the value of face-to-face meetings for them?

“They tend to forget that sometimes,” said Dominguez. “And yet, they meet with caucuses, and they meet at their capitol buildings, and they’re going to do it in a big, flashy way at the Democratic and Republican conventions. We’re just taking the opportunity to connect the dots for them.”

The overarching goal of the Worth Meetings About campaign is: “Create awareness and greater understanding among policy-makers and policy elites about the value of in-person meetings.”

The campaign’s first paid advertising will debut at the Republican Convention in July with signage in the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. At the Democratic Convention the following week, MMBC will post signage in the Philadelphia International Airport and on billboards along I-95.

Additional advertising will be deployed at bus stops and convention hotels in both cities, along with digital promotions, social media, and blog posts using the #WorthMeetingAbout hashtag. The MMBC will also create materials for coalition members, including a “Path to the White House” infographic, to help them spread key messages to their on- and offline networks.

“We have an opportunity that we only get once every four years, when everybody is coming together at these national conventions,” explained Dominguez. “We have the ability to really hammer home our message while they’re all together.”

Worth Meeting About could be a long-term play long after the elections, depending on its success through convention season and into the fall. The best-case scenario for the campaign relies on a concerted effort across the hospitality and tourism sectors to share the Worth Meeting About messaging materials and promote MeetingsMeanBusiness.com to their stakeholders and local governments.

The meetings industry continues to work together better year-over-year, as evidenced by the first annual Global Meetings Industry Day this year, co-developed by the MMBC and Convention Industry Council. But as we covered recently, some industry players do more than others to support the long-term advocacy efforts of the meetings sector.

The Worth Meeting About messaging is highly fluid, so that makes it easier for more industry players to rally around it. But for this campaign to make an impact, it needs to be consistent over an extended period of time.

In effect, the meetings industry needs to adopt the same type of long-term, audience-facing brand building as the destination and hotel marketers that make up its ranks.

“That is the ultimate goal, to not do this for a shorter time frame,” said Dominguez. “So how do we continue to build on this, and how do we know that this is going to be a coalition that’s still standing 10 years from now?

“This debate, this argument, will never go away,” he continued. “It’s always going to be part of the cycle. So our ability to educate and continue to drive the messaging home now is, we think, going to be very indicative of what the response will be like down the road.”

Photo Credit: A sample of the promotional materials developed by Meetings Mean Business for the Democratic and Republican national conventions. MMBC