Why Not Us?

11th Feb, 2022

"As we get back to the beginning stages of normalcy in many parts of the world, our regular contributor Mark Levin suggests that perhaps we should look beyond the return of leisure travel, conferences and meetings, increased tourism, and association meetings."

Why would I suggest looking “beyond” those things in a magazine that is dedicated to increasing worldwide tourism and international meetings?

Because now might just be the right time for the hospitality industry to exert some real leadership. Not leadership in the form of the most bookings, the newest facility, the hottest destination, or the biggest conference. I mean, why not take what we have (hopefully) learned from what the world has been through in the past two years and exercise some real global leadership in improving our world?

I’ve been honored to write articles and opinions in Headquarters Magazine for more than five years now. I’ve seen the power and passion of the international meetings and hospitality industry accomplish great things, bring value to clients, members and customers in many forms, and provide incredible insights into the marketplace.

What if, in the coming years, we, collectively, harness that power and passion to change the world for the better? We all want some person, some entity, some government, some group to do that.

Why not us?

Who is better positioned to be a change agent for how different nationalities and different cultures and different ideas interact and communicate with each other? We do that every day, bringing people and organisations and decision-makers together, with no judgements, no prejudices, and complete inclusiveness.

Who is better equipped to bridge the barriers between people and countries than the industry that owes its success – indeed, its very existence - to being able to negotiate win-win situations for all the stakeholders?

Who has more experience coordinating the advancement of education at all levels and in all parts of the world? Each year we bring millions of people to technical conferences, advanced learning forums, safety and security discussions, standards-setting gatherings, student achievement events, and educational enhancement meetings.

Who is more aware of the need to work together to protect the environment, the atmosphere, and the inhabitants of our planet? We accommodate and help coordinate the events and meetings that address these issues. But someone has to take a leadership role in assuring that these issues are addressed by initiating these activities in the first place.

Why not us?

The travel industry can bring people together, face-to-face (not just screen to screen), and provide the mobility needed to get to the right people in the room, exhibit hall or conference centre.

The hospitality industry and its suppliers can assure the safety and the comfort of participants, can coordinate with the technology community to provide for universal access to information, and can extend its hand to those who need to participate but may lack the resources to do so.

The association industry can bring value and content to these efforts by maximising the vast reservoir of human resources it represents. The best minds in every field; the best thinkers on every issue; and the best communicators at every level, are members of these international professional, trade and technical associations.

So how do we bring all of these forces together to make real change?

We focus on outcomes, not process. We agree on sharing risk as well as rewards. The bottom line is that there is no bottom line, because that is no longer an outcome.

We establish measurement criteria that have nothing to do with heads in beds, seats in seats, guarantees, or attrition clauses. We don’t wait for others to create a timeline, we offer a timeline to others. We commit to things that others think are “not in the realm of the meetings and hospitality industry” because doing the right thing to advance our common well-being is exactly what our realm should be.

The American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “there is no limit to what we can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit.” Someone needs to seize on that philosophy and make a real impact on our society.

Why not us?


Mark Levin, CAE, CSP has more than 25 years of experience as an association executive and is also an internationally-known speaker and consultant to the nonprofit and association community. He currently serves as executive vice president of the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute, an international trade association, and as president of B.A.I., Inc., his speaking and consulting firm. He is also the current president of the National Speakers Association National Capital Area Chapter. 


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Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.