Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel - Critical to American Jobs, Communities and Businesses

Chicago, IL (PressExposure) April 01, 2009 --, the leading online resource guide for the meeting and event industry, announced its advocacy of the United States Travel Association's (TIA) "Keep America Meeting" initiative, which is designed to promote and protect meetings, events and incentive travel in the U.S. Broadly, business travel creates 2.4 million jobs, injects more than $240 billion into the national economy annually and generates $39 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue. In adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward suspected corporate excess, policymakers have been demonizing companies for legitimate travel to meetings and events and for rewarding high performing employees with travel. Recognized throughout Chicago-land and nationally as a leading entrepreneur and business leader, President and founder of Jim Grillo, CMP is heading the initiative locally to educate the public on the need for strategic face-to-face meetings and events to combat the negative publicity recently received. | Grillo (pictured) is in a unique position as the operator of's supplier/event planner "gateway" to spot trends and to receive first-hand feedback from the meetings and events industry. In his role, Grillo hears from suppliers who provide event solutions in Chicago, as well as meeting and event planners seeking the Windy City for their meetings, events, client outings, corporate activities, ground transportation needs and meeting and event services. Grillo stated, "After three strong years, Chicago's downtown hotels are facing tougher times as businesses cut travel budgets and tourists stay home. Because more businesses and groups are canceling meetings at hotels or spending less on food and drink, hotel owners are looking for ways to cut costs." Disputing the wide-reaching comments of politicians and government officials, Grillo stated, "It is our responsibility today to communicate the positive messages from our industry and how we all directly contribute to the future growth of our economy."

"Handicapping businesses to score political points is shortsighted and erects barriers to recovery. This type of travel helps companies build relationships, retain and develop employee talent, generate ideas and facilitate knowledge sharing that drives business growth. In a weak economy, doesn't every company in America need more opportunities to promote recovery and plan for better days?" He continued, "Trips have also been mischaracterized as CEO junkets. But attendees of incentive program travel, for example, are typically middle-class Americans who have earned travel to reward exceptional work. Economic recovery and job creation is tied to a robust travel industry. Scaring companies to eliminate travel from their business plan will further restrict growth and hinder recovery at a time they are needed most."

"In Obama's defense, I doubt that he knows how much the meetings industry contributes to "mainstreet," the exact market he is trying to help. Bus boys, waiters, bellman, sedan drivers, etc. Meetings, conventions, exhibitions, and incentive travel generated $122.3 billion in direct spending in the United States last year, according to the Convention Industry Council's Economic Impact Study, released in September. Corporate meetings and events comprised one-third of that, or $40.3 billion; association events accounted for the rest."

Interestingly in the last 30 days, has seen a 40% increase in traffic from meeting planners seeking Chicago meeting and event venues. Grillo affirmed, "Meetings, events and incentives have, are and always will be a positive and invaluable component of industry, education, business and social organizations worldwide."

In support of this belief, Grillo is actively taking measures to support TIA's movement to educate the officials on the value of meetings, events and incentives. By using his wide reaching network, along with skills as a Search Engine Optimization expert, website designer and social media marketer, Grillo is reaching out to the travel industry through a variety of online communications platforms such as e-mail, his blog at and social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Grillo commented, "Our industry is being punished for the mistakes of a few. I have received a flood of emails and phone calls from employees seeking jobs, as well as disheartened hospitality and event management students seeking advice. Business meetings and incentive programs are what built this economy."

Believing that the need for meetings and events "is greater than ever in our history," Grillo shared one example that illustrates that the demand and importance for face-to-face meetings and networking events remains strong, "Within one week of sending the invitation for our Here's Chicago Meetings and Hospitality St. Pat's BASH event on March 2, 2009 we are at capacity with the most meeting and event professionals registered in the history of this event with over 400 registered attendees and another hundred on the waiting list."

For more information, call 630-916-8000 ext. 3, or visit the blog at

Meetings and Events Data - United States Travel Association:

Create 1 million jobs to the American workforce in local communities - from big cities to small towns - across the United States. Many of these jobs support working families in the hospitality and food service industries.

Generate $27 billion in wages for hardworking Americans that are critical to local economies across the United States, and can play a critical role in our nation's economic recovery.

Provide $16 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level. Contribute $101 billion in spending to the U.S. economy.

Support over 200 local convention centers around the county.

Are responsible for nearly 15 percent of all travel in the United States.

When businesses cancel productive meetings and events, the American worker and local communities from coast-to-coast are the unintended victims.

Without the jobs generated by meetings, events and incentive travel, the current unemployment rate of 7.6 percent would rise to 8.2 percent and cost the average American household an additional $136 in annual taxes. Business travel creates 2.4 million American jobs, $240 billion in spending and $39 billion in tax revenue.

Launched in 2004, is Chicago's preferred online resource guide among meeting and event planners seeking Chicago solutions for their meetings, events, client outings, corporate activities, ground transportation needs and meeting and event services. In addition, its online directory offers suppliers cost effective and efficient marketing options. The firm conducts networking events, education via video site tours, podcasts and article coverage about Chicago's meetings, events and hospitality industry.

President and founder Jim Grillo, CMP (certified meeting professional) is an accomplished meetings industry leader, serving as President of Meeting Professionals International Chicago Area Chapter, President of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association of Illinois, and as a committee member for several industry organizations. He also is the recipient of such esteemed awards as the Emmy Award, Alternate Media/News 2008 and Hall of Fame Supplier, Illinois Meetings & Events 2008. For more information, call 630-916-8000 ext. 3, or visit the blog at | Contact: Gretchen Kihm-Stegall for 847-681-0506


Jim Grillo/

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Press Release Submitted On: March 29, 2009 at 2:54 pm
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