Orlando officials think city is on a federal no-gathering list

Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 10:53 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Is Orlando on a travel blacklist for federal agencies because going there is too much fun? Tourism officials think some sort of list exists. At the very least, they say, they're pretty sure some leisure destinations have been labeled as inappropriate for government meetings and other gatherings, regardless of price, because of potential image problems given the recession and ongoing financial crisis. Depending on whom you ask, destinations on the list include Orlando; Las Vegas, Nev.; Miami; and Aspen, Colo. But tourism officials admit proving the existence of such a do-not-book list could be difficult.

Read more from The Sun-Sentinel.

Friday, June 19, 2009 10:57 AM
Gemini's avatar

I certainly prefer Orlando as a meeting destination. Having a meeting at Coronado Springs was admittedly tough, though. :)

Walt Schmidt - Co-Publisher, PointBuzz

Friday, June 19, 2009 11:29 AM
Jeff's avatar

There was a story on one of the network news magazine shows about this same issue in Vegas. What's stupid about this is that Orlando and Vegas are two places better equipped for meetings and conferences than most others, especially for big events. Yes, there happens to be a great deal of fun stuff to do in both places, but so what? You don't attend things and engage in them 24/7 while you're there.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

Friday, June 19, 2009 12:03 PM
rollergator's avatar

I think the fear is that people will "skip out" on meetings to go gamble, or visit Mickey, or, well, anything else. By the same token, clearly it's a mistake to go so far that you end up with 1,000 FBI guys meeting in a Denny's in Omaha. ;)

Friday, June 19, 2009 1:38 PM

This must be true since it sounds exactly like what someone in the government would come up with.The government just wants their employees to be miserable and they're not permitted to have a life after work if your a government employee on travel.

Friday, June 19, 2009 1:39 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

I typically attended DEFCON and CES yearly which is held in Vega$. Most in my group rarely left the conference for things, but thats mostly because there was too many interesting things going on to want to leave.

I could certainly understand if it was held in Mickey Land, I may run the risk of becoming MIA.. But its DISNEY!!

But I agree with Jeff.. The conference typically runs from 8-3 or so, and after that its social time.. You are technically "off the clock" at that point and not expected to hole yourself up in your room.

I imagine cost is also factor to some degree to the Gov't.. Having a conference in Vegas or Orlando drives up the room costs for both the vendor and attendee. Any conference cost hikes get passed on (to some degree) to the attendee. If they had it in the middle of Idaho, chances are room and conference fees may be slightly lower, but at what expense.. Probably smaller conference rooms.

Last edited by ridemcoaster, Friday, June 19, 2009 1:40 PM
Friday, June 19, 2009 2:59 PM

In my field, very few serious meetings are held in Orlando, Vegas, or similar places. As in, almost none. But, we generally also only draw 100-500 people for a typical conference, so you don't need someplace with that kind of meeting infrastructure.

And, I don't think it's so ridiculous to think about image for a government meeting---this is the kind of thing that shouldn't, but sometimes can, be blown out of proportion if it hits on a slow news day.

I am reminded of a conference called "the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences". It is a well-known boondoggle--they take pretty much everything that gets submitted, on the condition that someone actually has to attend the conference. My advisor told me that "Everyone is allowed one HICSS paper. If you have more than that on your CV, people start to wonder if you're being frivolous. But, no one looks askance at just one---so, use it wisely."

Friday, June 19, 2009 3:04 PM
Jeff's avatar

I've been to three conferences in Vegas (all the same one), and I would describe myself as being 85% engaged in it. In the evenings, of course, there's drinking and shows.

Look at the attendance issues though with IAAPA. Their numbers in Atlanta couldn't approach what they were getting in Orlando. And you could see that in the aisles too. If people were blowing off the show and conference, you couldn't tell by looking. I'm curious to see how it goes this year in Vegas (not planning to go).

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

Friday, June 19, 2009 10:21 PM

Perhaps it's because that WDW, and the Orlando area 
in general is still considered a potential terroist 

Friday, June 19, 2009 10:40 PM
Jeff's avatar

It's safe for tens of millions of tourists but it's not for a few hundred department of education analysts? I'm pretty sure that's not it.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

Saturday, June 20, 2009 8:58 AM
ridemcoaster's avatar

If we dont protect our education analysts the terrorists win.....

Saturday, June 20, 2009 1:44 PM

Exactly. The tourists are expendable, but not those low to
mid level bureaucrats..........................

Saturday, June 20, 2009 10:47 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

So let me see if I understand this. There's no proof the list exists and they have no proof this list is the reason Disney lost the DoD conference contract. But they report on this and therefore plant the seed of suggestion about the list and it's rationale to anyone who isn't aware of it already.

"Basically, it looks like right now, unofficially, Orlando and Vegas are on a list of 'not to book' by a number of governmental agencies," said Gary Sain, president of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We can't have that go through all the governmental agencies in the United States, because as the government grows, those are more and more meeting opportunities that we could lose."

Hmmm, then why is he talking to the press about it?

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It seems to me that if they are really concerned about this, then they need to work on it through marketing. They need to figure out how to advertise that these locations that are highly known for recreation, are also great places for a large number of people to gather and get business done.

But I'd keep the idea of a "list" out of the press and public purview.

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, June 21, 2009 1:02 AM

But isn't it much easier to float the idea of a conspiracy than to say "maybe we're not doing enough to get people to commit to having their conferences here?"

I think what gator said above is probably true. Anything that could be construed as wasteful spending that taxpayers are financing is going to strike a nerve with some people. Inevitably, something gets posted on youtube or some other website showing government employees boarding the Jungle Ride (usually by said employees themselves), and some blogger or watchdog is going to raise a stink. Meaning they run to CNN, MSNBC, or Fox depending on which way they lean, and then to their congressman. Is it right or wrong? Doesn't matter, somebody's waiting to coin the term "Orlando-gate."

Sunday, June 21, 2009 8:31 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

....just checked with my travel group for my company.. Amsterdam is not on the list... w00t!


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