|By Karen Robinson-Jacobs, The Dallas
Morning NewsMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 12, 2010--Stung by criticism of corporate meetings, a convention planning trade group has commissioned a national study to document the economic impact of the meeting industry.
The Professional Convention Management Association, meeting this week in Dallas, will spend up to $600,000 on the study to have better evidence of the industry's economic might the next time business travel and corporate meetings come under fire.
Meetings across the country were abruptly canceled over the last 14 months after bailed-out insurance giant American International Group hosted a spa-filled corporate retreat at a resort in California.
The event took place just days after AIG received billions in federal aid.
As the outcry grew, from the public and Washington, "we didn't have credible data that we could walk in with to show the new administration, 'Hey, this is what this industry means to the economy,' " said Deborah Sexton, chief executive of the Chicago-based PCMA.
"We want to provide current, quality data that will [show] the economic impact of the meeting planning industry."
The report should be ready by the end of the year, she said.
Sexton also said attendance at the Dallas convention is expected to pass the 3,134 at last year's gathering in New Orleans. The group's largest convention drew 3,400 to Seattle in 2008.
Dallas attendance numbers should be available next week.
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