In response to Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has called for an economic boycott of the Grand Canyon State — especially as a meeting destination. Grijalva said in a statement:
We are calling on organizations not to schedule conventions or conferences in the state until it reverses this decision. This is a specifically targeted call for action, not a blanket rejection of the state economy. Conventions are a large source of visitors and revenue, and targeting them is the most effective way to make this point before it’s too late.
Well, if anyone still needs a reminder that meetings mean business, there it is. As Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau, tells Convene: “This issue clearly demonstrates the volatility of the convention and visitor industry. In this economy, it is more important than ever that we do everything we can to attract visitors to Arizona, not discourage them. Like conventions, visitors also have choices, and we will never know the full impact critical issues have on those choices.”
Indeed, I can’t help but wonder if meeting professionals should be, well, flattered. Because look at the economic and political muscle their conferences and conventions are perceived to have! But as a matter of policy, does Grijalva’s idea make sense? Would it send a clear, powerful message, and garner the results that Grijalva is seeking? Or is it likely to do more harm than good, possibly opening the Pandora’s box of unintended consequences?