Romer: Great things happen when people come together |

Romer: Great things happen when people come together

Face-to-face interaction is the platform where deals are struck, relationships are forged, and ideas are generated. There is real power of what business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel and corporate events collectively do for people, businesses and communities.

There’s no substitute for a handshake and the value of your network can’t be overstated. This conventional wisdom is all true. But beyond the qualitative, there are concrete, tangible outcomes that come from personal connections which are forged and strengthened at meetings and events.

Every business needs to make smart decisions with its resources. Hosting a client event, sending a team to a conference, providing employees with incentive travel, and investing in a trade show are significant investments — but what’s the return? Here’s a hint: it’s far more than you think.

The benefits of group meetings, events, and trade shows ripple beyond the walls of the meeting space. When meetings come to town, everybody benefits. The face-to-face industry creates jobs, generates commerce and creates far-reaching community impact.

There is positive news coming from the Capitol to help jump-start groups, meetings, and events throughout Colorado. Legislation designating $10 million in state stimulus funding to incentivize attraction of meetings, conferences and events through Dec. 31, 2022, was has been introduced into the General Assembly. The bill language provides support for our hospitality sector by incentivizing groups and meetings. Special thanks to Rep. Dylan Roberts, who represents Eagle and Routt counties, for sponsoring this legislation.

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The proposal is intended to jump-start attraction of meetings and events to Colorado as a way of driving recovery of our state’s ailing tourism economy. The goal is to give destinations across Colorado an edge in attracting new business by providing event organizers with a 10 percent rebate against allowable hard costs, including venue rentals, audiovisual needs, technology and food and beverage (no alcohol).

Given that coronavirus conditions have driven up certain costs, COVID-related costs (such as costs relating to holding a “hybrid” meeting) would qualify for a 25 percent rebate. As far as we know, no other state is offering a comprehensive incentive program, which (unless others follow suit) should put Colorado destinations in a great position to compete effectively for new near-term business to drive recovery.

The legislation proposes broad language requiring funds to be distributed proportionately across the state and in ways that drive economic impact in local communities. The legislation also provides for the Colorado Tourism Office to consult with tourism stakeholders on shaping the program. Vail Valley Partnership has worked with statewide groups including the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, Visit Denver, Breckenridge Tourism Office and others to help craft the details on this statewide program.

The services provided by the meetings industry is often unappreciated, but the economic impact is unmistakable. The meetings industry supported more direct jobs than many large manufacturing sectors, including machinery, food, auto, and chemicals. It sustained more jobs than the telecommunications and oil and gas extraction industries as well. Every dollar spent on face-to-face meetings and business events generates an additional $1.60 for the economy — an increase of 160%.

The impacts are felt locally; the months of May, June, September, and October traditionally see more group and meeting visitors than leisure guests. This sector has been severely impacted by COVID-related restrictions and is primed to rebound with a vengeance. It is exciting to know that the state recognizes the need to attracting groups and conferences to Colorado to help lead our recovery, and our community is ready to welcome our group, meeting and event attendees with enthusiasm.

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