New Study Reveals Importance of Meetings to U.S. Economy

A new economic impact report reveals that face-to-face meetings contribute hundreds of billions to the national economy and support 5.9 million jobs.

The meeting and events industry plays a critical role in supporting a thriving and healthy U.S. economy.

That’s the big-picture takeaway from “Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy,” a new report from Oxford Economics, which was commissioned by the Events Industry Council and supported by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and other industry partners. It also shows a growing industry and an increased number of meeting participants.

“Our report illustrates that the meetings and events industry continues to grow across all segments as it contributes hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue to the U.S. economy and supports 5.9 million jobs,” said Adam Sacks, founder and president of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, in a press release [PDF]. “Notably in 2016, meetings generated $325 billion of direct spending and $845 billion in business sales.”

The report also showed that there were 1.9 million meetings in 2016, hosting 251 million attendees. In addition, direct spending on meetings increased 23 percent between 2009 and 2016, primarily due to increases in the number of meeting participants.

Data from the report came from a nationwide survey of meeting planners, exhibitors, and venues and represents almost 9,000 domestic business travelers, almost 50,000 international air travelers, and 11,000 hotels.

It also measured both direct and indirect levels of industry impact, revealing that meetings supported more direct jobs than many large manufacturing sectors, including machinery, food, auto, and chemicals. The long-term impact of face-to-face meetings is also compelling: Every dollar spent on face-to-face meetings and events generates an additional $1.60 in benefits for the U.S. economy.

“There’s been a critical need for information quantifying the significance of face-to-face meetings and business events to the U.S. economy,” said Susan Robertson, CAE, executive vice president of ASAE and chair of the Events Industry Council. “Hosting an event, convention, or tradeshow brings new revenue to industries across the country. So, many people and companies beyond the scope of the events industry itself benefit from its reach.”

For example, business services was the industry most positively affected by meetings in 2016, with $196.3 billion in total economic output. The finance, insurance, and real estate industry followed with $141.1 billion. Then there are the industries more closely aligned to meetings and events, such as food and beverage and hotels and lodging. In 2016, meeting organizers spent $48 billion to provide food and beverage services at meetings, and meetings generated 300 million room nights.

“This new research confirms that our industry plays a critical role in connecting people and bolstering crucial segments of our national economy,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International and cochair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. “The numbers reiterate what anecdotally we always knew to be true—no matter the industry, investing in face-to-face meetings is a smart choice.”

(skynesher/Vetta/Getty Images)

Cherise Bathersfield

By Cherise Bathersfield

Cherise Bathersfield is a contributing writer for Associations Now. MORE

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