Today, after more than a year since in-person meetings and events were abruptly suspended, the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau (PWCVB) launched Meet in RI, a campaign that asks local companies to commit to hosting a future meeting, event, or convention in Rhode Island. The PWCVB launched the campaign with support from community partners Johnson & Wales University and Partnership for Rhode Island while observing Global Meetings Industry Day, a day for thousands of meeting professionals all over the world to spotlight the role events play in generating revenue for their communities and celebrate the talented professionals that keep that economic engine running.
“Johnson & Wales is proud to support the Meet in RI initiative, and we encourage our state’s corporate and university leaders to join us in pledging to book a meeting in RI between 2022 and 2024,” said Johnson & Wales Chancellor Mim L. Runey, LP.D. “As a major employer and an important economic partner for the city, state, and region, we have a well-earned reputation as a global leader in key industries such as food, hospitality, and tourism. With a more promising long-term future ahead, we are excited for the opportunities that await our students as they graduate positioned to lead in their chosen field.”
In 2020, direct spending was down more than 75% compared to the previous year — a loss of more than $56 million. Meet in RI is a straightforward and impactful way for local corporate executives and decision-makers to invest in the future of Rhode Island’s hard-hit hospitality and tourism industry as it works to bounce back to pre-pandemic business.
“As meetings and events begin to once again take place in the Ocean State, it’s a great time for our local business partners to extend their support however they can,” said Tom Giordano, executive director of Partnership for Rhode Island. “Our partnership with the PWCVB helps to get this extraordinary campaign before some of the state’s largest corporations.”
“Rhode Island-based companies can help jump-start our industry’s return to business by completing the Meet in RI pledge and commit to keeping their next few meetings or events local,” said Kristen Adamo, PWCVB president and CEO. “In the short term, they can host a board meeting or office retreat this year at a hotel followed by a larger event that might occupy space at the Rhode Island Convention Center in the next year or two.”
Members of the local corporate community can pledge to hold at least one meeting, convention, or trade show in Rhode Island between 2022–2024. Businesses that pledge to Meet in RI will receive assistance from the PWCVB Sales & Services team, providing research of hotel availability and rates, recommendations for off-site venues and free-time activities, site inspections, and any additional needs to make the event a success.
In 2019, 250 meetings, conventions, and sporting events booked by the PWCVB took place. In 2020, 44 meetings, conventions, and sporting events took place from January through the first half of March. There was a 75.3% reduction in direct spending from $74.9 million in 2019 to $18.4 million in 2020. “Direct spending” is an estimation of what a group will spend while attending an event and includes several factors such as lodging, transportation, food and beverage, venue rental, and recreational spending.
Over the same time period, there was a 74% decline in hotel room nights utilized and a 67.4% decline in people attending events. Fewer people attending events directly results in less business for local restaurants, shops, transportation, and other recreational activities.
For more information about Meet in RI or to pledge to hold your own meeting in Rhode Island, please visit MeetinRI.com.