President Barack Obama and the administration are doing a good job of supporting face-to-face meetings, according to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. The Obama Administration plans to host a retreat July 31 to August 1 where Cabinet officials will "assess the first six months of the administration and lay out goals and priorities for the coming months," said White House spokesperson Kate Bedingfield.
"Face-to-face meetings are often the most productive ways to strengthen relationships, develop strategies, increase productivity and achieve organizational goals," Dow said in a statement. "We applaud the Obama Administration for employing this productive and proven technique to enhance its activities."
Back in February, Obama made headlines in the meetings industry for a different reason. At a presidential town meeting in Indiana, he made the comment, "You can't get corporate jets, you can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer's dime."
Though these comments drew ire from Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and industry professionals at the time, Obama has since given his support to global travel. In March, he met with 13 travel industry executives to discuss the business community's concerns about the downturn in meetings and events. In May, Obama made a stop at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, saying, "There's nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week."
The upcoming two-day retreat is another step in the right direction, according to Dow.
"The Obama Administration is leading by example and the business community, media and policymakers should take note," Dow said. "During difficult economic times, all expenses should be reviewed, but beneficial travel and meetings must continue."