Economic Impact of the Meeting Industry

In the last 20 years, the Meeting and Convention Industry has gone from being an ancillary service provider to the Fortune 500 to a major industry that contributes more to the GDP than the air transportation, motion picture, sound recording, performing arts, and spectator sport industries.

It is important for all meeting planners, whether you work for a large company or are a third party meeting planner in a small firm, to realize how far your industry has come and the impact you now have on the American economy.

In 2009, the Convention Industry Council commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLC to conduct an Economic Significance Study of the Meeting and Convention Industry. The original 2009 study was followed by another in 2012 that demonstrated, not only the impact of our industry, but also its growth over the ensuing three years. If you are not familiar with the findings of this study, the statistics may astound you.

economic impact table

That’s 225 million people who attended a meeting in 2012, the last year we have complete statistics. That number is almost unbelievable. Of the 1.8 million meetings per year, 1.3 million are classified as corporate or business meetings, 270,000 are conventions, conferences or congresses, 11,000 are trade shows, and 66,000 are incentive meetings.

“Working side-by-side creates dynamic environments where handshakes convert to commerce, insight translates to innovation and knowledge sharing creates a better educated and more competitive workforce,” says Karen Kotowski, Executive Director of the CIC. “Meetings are how business gets done in virtually every state, city and town in America. They are the very definition of working together and are essential to help win our future.”

In 2009, Oxford Economics established a clear link between business travel and business growth, proving that for every dollar invested in industry travel, businesses experienced an average of $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits. In addition, the meeting industry’s 17 million jobs generate $60 billion in labor income. Finally, as far as revenue is concerned, meetings activity provides $907 billion in total economic output to the U.S.

Whenever I quote these statistics to colleagues in the meeting and event industry they are always surprised at how significant our industry has become. I believe it is important for us all to realize how we fit in. Understanding the impact our profession is having on the economy of the country will encourage us to take our work seriously and strive for excellence even more diligently.

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