Skift Take

Trump's travel ban is hurting America's image internationally and its innovation economy domestically, but the global meetings industry and many U.S. cities are rallying in an attempt to minimize the pain.

The Future of Meetings & Events

What a difference a year makes. South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin kicks off on Friday with a ton of sessions focusing on politics, diversity, and inclusivity. Last year at SXSW 2016, President Obama attended to speak about the future growth of the U.S. tech sector. This year, much of the pre-event buzz surrounds the dark shadow of Trump’s politically-driven travel ban, and how it’s casting a pall on progress.

We’ll be there this year scoping out the many “SXSW Houses,” where destinations set up satellite event spaces with dedicated programming around the downtown core to promote their visitor and economic development strategies.

From a global meetings industry perspective on the impact of the travel ban, more than 6,500 Canadian academics have signed a pledge to “not attend international conferences in the U.S. while the ban persists,” and more than 43,000 academics have signed another petition condemning the executive order. A group of astronomers behind the “Science Undivided” initiative have pledged not to attend conferences in the U.S. “until they can be attended by all, regardless of citizenship, and invite academics from all fields to join them. The pledge currently has more than 600 signatures. Read the full Skift story here.

In response, cities are developing new platforms promoting their stance on inclusivity in advanced industry. For example, Washington, DC produced two new white papers recently showcasing the rise of its tech sector in an effort to attract more tech conventions and another one on the value of inclusivity in tech.

At SXSW this week, Destination DC, Events DC, the Washington DC Economic Partnership, and the DC Mayor’s Office are once again combining forces inside their annual pop-up #WeDC SXSW House to trumpet loudly: “Everyone Is Welcome in Our House.”

— Greg Oates, meetings editor

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Trump Travel Ban

Trump’s New Travel Ban and What It Means for the Meetings Industry: Although the new executive order grants a number of exceptions, an unfriendly air persists. Convention organizers, especially those in the academic or scientific nature, are getting an earful from their constituents. Read more at Skift

Meetings Industry Reacts to Trump Travel Ban 2.0: A couple statements here from Meetings Mean Business and U.S. Travel CEO Roger Dow commenting on the next iteration of President Trump’s travel ban. The biggest scare is the rising negative perception of the U.S. worldwide, as much as the impact on delegates working in the banned countries. Read more at Meetings Today

Confronting the Rise of Nationalism: Meeting planners weigh in on the Trump travel ban with most feedback suggesting, “This is not what our country is about.” Association conference organizers say long-term uncertainty is never a good thing for long-range international event planning. Read more at Meetings & Conventions

Destination Innovation

Washington, DC Brings “The Capital of Inclusive Innovation” to South by Southwest: The WeDC pop-up house at SXSW will host 23 local tourism, meetings, government, business, and creative industry leaders to communicate the push toward inclusivity in the capital. The goals of the conference activation are “expanding the city’s technology sector, promoting DC’s innovative startup community, and fostering new partnerships among local and national business communities.” Read more at Washington DC Economic Partnership

Pittsburgh Looks to Build Upon Its Successes With ‘Inclusive Innovation Week’: Pittsburgh’s city government is designating March 31–April 7 “Inclusive Innovation Week” to build on its Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation report. Mayor Bill Peduto said, “We are in the leader’s position in this country when it comes to technology, and we’re blessed for that, but we’re one of the few that understands that it has to be something that’s there for all.” Read more at Route Fifty

Melbourne Convention Bureau Releases The Future of Business Meetings Industry Report: This new report provides data on planner sentiment relating to trends in technology, mass personalization, and the overall value of customized event collaboration in any given destination to drive learning. The report states: “Customization and personalization are a growing expectation among attendees. In the future attendees will have more ability to go and see exactly what they want to see.” Read more at Melbourne Convention Bureau

Dubai Business Events Director on Drive to Build Emirate’s Knowledge Economy: Steen Jakobsen, director of Dubai Business Events, explains the need for convention bureaus to focus more upstream to implement government strategies to build priority sectors by developing conventions in high-growth industries more effectively — while maintaining downstream work to fill hotel beds. Read more at The Iceberg


Five Reasons Why SXSW Still Matters: Ex-Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki explains why SXSW is his favorite conference, despite the volume of big brand sponsors: “There are no billionaires and few venture capitalists. Most of the attendees are doers, not pretenders. It’s the people who really do the work, not their bosses nor their investors. Brands aren’t ruining SXSW. They’re providing the food and drinks that power it.” Read more at Mashable

5 Themes That Will Dominate SXSW This Year: Politics, artificial intelligence, job displacement, diversity, and the space industry are some of the big emerging trends at SXSW this year. Lots of anticipation around potential fireworks with “Shark Tank” investor Mark Cuban serving on a panel discussing governmental obstacles to disruption. Read more at Inc

CES 2017: Brands Battle For Mindshare At The World’s Largest Trade Show: Interesting how the window of conversation around the CES tech and innovation conference in Las Vegas in January expands every year. This post highlights the top 10 brand experiences and the best exhibitor event design strategies in 2017, including the use of natural elements, transparent screens, and video walls. Read more at Event Marketer

Amazon Web Services VP of Marketing on The Fast Growth of Re:Invent Conference: Amazon’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas is one of the fastest-growing tech events globally, surging from 6,000 attendees at the inaugural event in 2012 to 32,000 in 2016. Factors driving the success include a “finely tuned work-play balance, offering everything from boot camps and certification workshops to a Harley motorcycle ride and chicken wing-eating contest.” Read more at Event Marketer


The Skift Meetings Innovation Report is curated by Skift editor Greg Oates [[email protected]]. The newsletter is emailed every Wednesday.

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Photo credit: Washington, DC's meetings and economic development teams are showing up in full force at SXSW in Austin this week to promote inclusivity in tech events. Events DC

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