Well, certain media investigators are at it again. A recent news story focused on a conference that took place at several hotels/resorts in Tucson. Filled with mis-information and sensationalistic verbiage, I suppose it was intended to incite outrage and boost viewership.
There is a “gotcha” mentality sweeping the media, and every time a company is ridiculed for holding a meeting or providing employee incentives, resorts nationwide see mass cancellations.
3 out of 4 meetings held up to national scrutiny were held at Phoenix-Scottsdale properties. As a result, planners charged with staging legitimate, privately-funded meetings are fearful to do so in Arizona.
Did you know, most conference attendees routinely pay their own travel expenses. No beverages were included in the food/beverage costs covered by the Federal Grant. In fact, the hotel in question honored the $89 federal per-diem ~ which the group would have paid almost anywhere regardless of the hotel’s star rating. Meeting space was provided for free.
One of Arizona’s largest revenue generators, Tourism contributes $2.6 billion in local, state and federal revenues each year. Meetings account for more than 70% of most resort revenues. When those revenues are jeopardized, all taxpayers suffer.
A recently-circulated government document advises agencies to avoid “locations or destinations that give the appearance of being lavish or resort destinations.” And while Phoenix didn’t make the initial blacklist of cities to avoid, meeting planners are confirming they’re hard-pressed to “sell” Phoenix up the chain of command since there is a perception that the Valley is a hotbed (no pun intended!) of negative media activity.
To help educate residents, several agencies are stepping up their efforts to stress the importance of tourism, and will continue to promote Arizona as a value-conscious destination.
OK, I'm climbing off my soapbox now. Won’t ya’all come see us now and then?!
(Source data: AZ Hotel & Lodging Assn.)