In a wide-ranging new report, the Events Industry Council says business events around the world help drive a total GDP impact of $1.5 trillion, making it larger than the economic output of many countries.
When it comes to the economic impact of the global meetings industry, one word stands out: trillion. With a T.
According to the 2018 Global Economic Significance of Business Events report, which was conducted by Oxford Economics at the behest of the Events Industry Council (EIC), face-to-face business events generated just over $1 trillion in direct spending. In addition, they contributed a total gross domestic product impact of $1.5 trillion, along with $2.5 trillion in sales, nearly 26 million jobs, and an economic impact said to outpace that of even consumer electronics.
Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, the chair of EIC’s Research Committee, emphasized in a statement that the report finally underlined the industry’s sheer scale.
“For the first time our industry is able to prove just how formidable an economic engine business events are globally,” Breden stated in a news release [PDF]. “This study enables everyone involved in bringing people together for meaningful face-to-face interactions to show their true value and substantial contributions to growth and opportunity.”
A few highlights from the report:
A lot of people go to meetings. According to the report, approximately 1.5 billion people from more than 180 countries attended a business meeting in 2017. An average of $704 was spent on each attendee, leading to collective spending of just a hair more than $1 trillion—an amount that covers event production, travel, direct spending on the event, and expenditures by exhibitors. The events industry also directly led to 10.3 million jobs.
Some markets are bigger than others. The largest market for meetings from a spending standpoint is North America, which represents a 35.6 percent share globally, with $381 billion in direct spending last year. That topped the other two major markets for events spending: Western Europe (30.3 percent, $325 billion in spending) and Asia (25.3 percent, $271.4 billion). Notably, while North America drives the most spending, Asia drives the most attendees, with 31.7 percent of participants overall (482.7 million), while Western Europe directly follows at 29.2 percent (444.4 million). North America was third in attendees, at 21.7 percent (329.7 million).
There are lots of economic ripple effects. The report focuses pretty heavily on the downstream effects of meetings, including how suppliers and vendors come into play. In getting to its $2.5 trillion economic output total, the report used an output multiplier of 2.36, finding that for every dollar in direct event spending, there was an additional $1.36 in indirect and induced spending, meaning that the economic impact of a meeting was far beyond the event itself.
The report highlighted a sense of collaboration between much of the meetings industry, as officials from IMEX, Hilton, the MPI Foundation, and the PCMA Education Foundation assisted with EIC’s research. Preliminary findings were first announced at IMEX America in Las Vegas last month.
As a part of the study, EIC CEO Karen Kotowski, CMP, CAE, and IMEX CEO Carina Bauer took part in a video conversation explaining the process and methodology behind the report. Check it out above.