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Walls of unity June 30, 2010

Posted by Roger Rickard in Advocacy.
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Below is my reply to an article written by Katie Morell for Meetings Focus entitled, Should Groups Boycott Destinations?

One has a right and obligation to voice their opinions and concerns about any and all types of legislation proposed and passed by elected officials, including the cause and effect of their actions. I respect that voice, however – I am deeply concerned about the reactionary tactic used.

Whether one perceives the merits of Arizona SB 1070 as good or bad, one should not prompt a cause of action against the hospitality industry. I am not taking a position on the merits of the law – my only position is that again our industry is chosen as the whipping boy for all political recourse.  The constant reaction of organizations to first prompt a boycott rather than first seek other solutions is bothersome to me.  What will be the next issue that moves organizations to boycott a state or region for their cause?  Where will the boycott come from? Where will the boycott take place? How long and divisive will it be? One never knows. Our industry didn’t take a position one way or another, for or against this legislation, nor were we asked to be a part of the debate; but again the attacks begin with our industry.  We must build walls of unity against any travel industry boycott – or stand by watching as the walls of our industry slowly erode.  

What we do in the meetings industry benefits society. When people meet they solve problems, they collaborate on breakthroughs, they change cultures, they tear down walls, and they form bonds that move us to a better tomorrow. I am proud of what we do and I make no apologies for it.

Our industry is the highest institution for enabling education, collaboration and change, and we must invest our time and energy to protect this – our institution. 

                We’re not brain surgeons – we bring them face-to-face.

                We’re not rocket scientists – we bring them face-to-face.

                We’re not world leaders – we bring them face-to-face.

We bring the world together – let’s not find ways to tear us apart.

One only needs to remember the attacks on meetings and conventions by federal representatives last year to realize that we have to be vigilant in our position that meetings mean business, that meetings deliver and that face time matters.  We have a voice – let’s use it together.


Bravo for Baseball! May 17, 2010

Posted by Roger Rickard in Advocacy, Uncategorized.
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In news report from the Phoenix Business Journal last week, Mayor League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig brushed off calls to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Phoenix because of Arizona’s new immigration law.

Coalitions of major Arizona Business Groups have written the Commissioner asking to keep the 2011 All Star game in Phoenix. “We understand the MLB is facing pressure to reconsider Phoenix as the site of next year’s All-Star Game; however, a relocation decision will equate to lost jobs for innocent citizens, including our Hispanic community,” the letter states. “Arizona has a proven track record in executing safe, enjoyable and successful major events.”

Read more: Selig has no plans to move All-Star Game from Phoenix – Phoenix Business Journal:

The Los Angeles City Council voted yesterday to boycott Arizona businesses.  The National Basketball Association Western Conference Playoff Finals pits the Los Angeles Lakers against the Phoenix Suns.  Do you think the Lakers will boycott the playoff games being played in Arizona?  Thus forfeiting the very games they worked all year to play in.  I think not. 

An economic boycott affects both those boycotting as well as the party they boycotted.  The 50 plus years of United States government economic boycotts to Cuba have not worked to topple the Castro regime.  The United Nations and United States government sanctions against Iraq didn’t change the political climate in that country. 

Oh, the boycotts will hurt.  They will hurt workers and small businesses. They will hurt 200,000 plus people who work directly in the hospitality industry. They will not hurt the state legislature. I believe we should have a serious debate in this country regarding immigration reform  –  maybe, just maybe, Arizona has stirred the debate pot enough to let it boil onto the national legislative radar.  Let’s all hope so.