U.S. Meetings Industry Generates $330 Billion Annually

Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau

The meetings industry generates a whopping $330 billion annually in the United States, according to a soon-to-be-released study. The Events Industry Council's Meetings Significance Survey is the long-awaited follow-up to the group's inaugural research, first put out in 2014. The latest study, which reveals a $50 billion increase in total revenue since then, is based on data from Oxford Economics, Longwoods International, the National Travel and Tourism Office, and hotel-data provider STR. In total, the study surveyed 1,300 planners, 9,000 domestic business travelers, 50,000 international travelers and 11,000 hoteliers.

The Meetings Mean Business coalition revealed the preliminary report data today at Convening Leaders, the annual meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association, in Nashville. "The meetings industry has never been stronger than it is today," said former MMB co-chair Richard Harper, executive vice president of HelmsBriscoe. "We have the privilege of working for one of the largest industries in the world. We need to communicate that to people, to start with that and then drill down to our individual roles."

Direct spending supported by meetings exceeded the sales of businesses in the air, rail and water-transportation sectors combined, according to the forthcoming study. It also was greater than the output of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors.

According to preliminary data, in 2016 some 1.9 million meetings took place nationwide, encompassing more than 250 million participants. Of those, more than six million were international participants, who accounted for $18.3 billion of spending in the United States.

"We need to continue to talk about the economic value and the benefits we create for local communities," said new MMB co-chair Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. "And we need to make sure that message is being heard externally by those who influence our industry. We believe advocacy is the way forward."

The MMB will mobilize industry advocacy online this year, and will ramp up efforts to grow international participation in this year's Global Meetings Industry Day, on April 12.

As more statistics become available, they will be posted at meetingsmeanbusiness.com/data.