Unless you have been at some remote location the past two weeks, you probably have heard or read about Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) bill to prohibit all TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) recipients from holding any meetings and events. Sen. Kerry’s proposal reflects a sentiment in Washington, and for that matter much of the country, that business meetings and events are nothing more than frivolous corporate junkets where behavior and expense know no bounds. While there are plenty of examples of excess, you and I know from personal experience that the vast majority of the business meetings and events do have business purpose and provide a real return on the Company’s investment (ROI). Correct? Well……we know they have business purpose but ROI? Do we have to bring up that ROI thing again? We have been kicking around the application of ROI to meetings and events for decades and there is no easy answer.

The business community has another perception as evidenced in the CFO.com March 3, 2009 article Conferences in the Crosshairs. In this article former National Business Travel Association Chairman Kevin Iwamoto states “I don’t think the meetings industry has been really effective in defining in a dollars-and-cents way what the value of meetings is”. You may have heard the quote (author unknown), “you cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” If there was ever a better time for the meeting and event industry to take a leadership role by applying the ROI concepts we have been debating for years it’s NOW! The economic woes in the global economy present an outstanding opportunity for our industry to gain recognition and respect in corporate offices around the world and make a contribution to the economy’s sustained productivity by helping define the legitimacy of business meetings and events using ROI. After all, applying the concepts seem a little less intimidating than living the rest of our professional meeting career in the virtual world.

There is plenty of guidance including our own professional association, Meeting Professional International, as well as other organizations and individuals. I have provided some source material to assist you in developing your analysis.