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Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article titled, “Hotels Say, We’re Businesses, Too.” The article points out that “under the rules of the Government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program companies are required to adopt policies on spending, private jets, events and conferences and office parties.” This is having a disastrous impact on many destination cities. For instance, Las Vegas hosts 22,000 business meetings a year.

Like other companies that host conferences, The Kelsey Group is feeling the impact of the economic challenges in our upcoming Marketplaces 2009 conference (formerly Drilling Down on Local). The event will be held March 16-18 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. We still anticipate a very strong turnout in great measure due to the incredibly strong program and speaker list, as well as our reputation for providing a very healthy return on investment for attendees and sponsors.

Still, many companies have put into place restrictions on travel and conference attendance even though an event such as Marketplaces 2009 is not covered by the TARP rules. Executives at all levels find the need to gain approval to go to a business conference, even though an event like Marketplaces 2009 brings the decision makers to attendees saving them time and money (compared with visiting clients in person) while also gaining rich learning and prospecting opportunities.

In this economy of our discontent, my colleagues Peter Krasilovsky, Michael Boland, Matt Booth and Neal Polachek have put together a conference that is worth going to your boss to get approval. As Peter wrote: “Online and mobile applications are poised to become the disruptive forces that dislodge (or reinforce) traditional media.” Local search, social media, online video and the rapid evolution in the media marketplace will be discussed by the leaders in the industry. You will come away with an ROI that will satisfy even the most demanding management.

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