Susan Robertson, executive vice president of the American Society of Association Executives
and chair of the Events Industry Council
The U.S. meetings economy continues to grow across all segments and major reporting metrics. In a teleconference today, the Events Industry Council, Meetings Mean Business Coalition and Oxford Economics released new data that reveals how the industry has bolstered its role as a crucial segment of our national economy. The report, "Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy," found that meetings generated $325 billion in direct spending and $845 billion in business sales in 2016.
This important research "defines the breadth and depth of the industry's economic impact," said Susan Robertson, executive vice president of the American Society of Association Executives and chair of the Events Industry Council, in introducing the topic. "Meetings supported more direct jobs in 2016 than many other large manufacturing sectors."
The study considered a substantial body of research, noted Adam Sacks, founder and president of Tourism Economics, a division of Oxford Economics, which conducted the research. Among the findings, the U.S. meetings industry represents:
• 5.9 million jobs
• $446 billion of Gross Domestic Product
• $104 billion in federal, state and local taxes
From 2009 to 2016, direct spending on meetings grew by 23 percent, said Sacks, primarily due to the expanding number of participants. That's particularly noteworthy, he said: "In 2009, there were experts foretelling the death of the meetings industry. There was a lot of concern about how companies were spending money, and we were in the midst of a recession. But, in reality, the industry is stronger than ever and continues to grow, even with alternative technologies. Meetings and events are prevailing against any of these other headwinds that may still exist."
In 2016, 1.9 million meetings were held in the U.S., hosting a total of 251 million attendees. "Meetings supported more direct jobs than many large manufacturing sectors," Sacks added, "including machinery, food, auto and chemicals. It sustained more jobs than the telecommunications and oil-and-gas-extraction industries, as well."
While international participants represented only 2 percent of attendees, they were responsible for 11 percent of meetings-related spending, since they stay longer and tend to spend more when they visit the United States.
"This study proves what, anecdotally, we already knew to be true," said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. "Services provided by the meetings industry often go unnoticed, but this research shows that the economic impact is irrefutable. It clearly demonstrates MMBC's mantra: 'Great things happen when people come together.'"
Every dollar spent on face-to-face meetings and events generates an additional $1.60 -- or 160 percent -- in benefits for the U.S. economy. Thus, said Van Deventer, "No matter the industry, investing in face-to-face meetings is a smart choice."
The data will support lobbying efforts of the U.S. Travel Association, including its four core principles, for rebuilding the nation's transportation infrastructure.