USTA chairman proposes changes
Rossi Ralenkotter, the new chairman of the U.S. Travel Association’s board of directors, began his term with a proposed national agenda aimed at strengthening the meetings industry. He wants to support and build the industry by promoting the value of business travel to the economy and to corporate bottom lines. He says meetings are more than just a key driver of the nation’s economy. “Meetings are core to our national fabric as a means to educate, collaborate, and innovate,” Ralenkotter said in the report.
Worried that emerging trends could disrupt the meetings industry, Ralenkotter suggests a new national agenda to quell the challenges. Three major issues and his solutions include:
- Many businesses and government entities are discouraging meetings travel for budgetary or public relations reasons. Ralenkotter says meetings should be more relevant and the industry must promote the value of meetings to business leaders, policymakers and individual consumers.
- The hassles of long-haul travel include outdated transportation infrastructure and struggling airlines, which discourage many from traveling. His solution is to make meetings more accessible by developing a new travel infrastructure master plan and modernizing airports. “Safe, efficient, and cost-effective travel requires a bold new approach to our national infrastructure,” Ralenkotter said.
- High-tech and low-cost alternatives to face-to-face meetings are becoming good options for some people. He suggests making meetings more competitive, for the industry to evolve and meet the needs of tomorrow’s consumer, including harnessing the power of new technology to strengthen the value of face-to-face meetings.
The meetings industry contributes $458 billion to the U.S. GDP, generates $64 billion in tax revenue, and employs 1.7 million Americans. Ralenkotter is the president and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.