U.S Meetings Mean Top Money for National Economy
Research will help countries worldwide calculate the value of their events.
By Jessie States
The U.S. meeting industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, $106 billion in GDP, $60 billion in labor, $25.6 billion in state and federal taxes and $263 billion is direct spend.
The findings come from a 136-page research study released Feb. 17 by PricewaterhouseCoopers and commissioned by the Convention Industry Council in conjunction with MPI and a task force of other industry organizations. And while the study solely estimates the value of meetings in the U.S., its global implications are unequivocally more valuable.
“Why do business incubators exist, and why do we brainstorm? Because innovation comes from bringing people together,” said Bruce MacMillan, C.A., president and CEO of MPI. “Because there is no more powerful or valuable force than the power of human connections and live interaction. Whether it’s co‐creating an unprecedented technological design or sharing a surgical procedure that saves lives, when people come together, great ideas become reality.”
Back in 2006, the United Nations World Tourism Organization, along with several industry associations (including MPI), pioneered an initiative to measure the economic activity of meetings on a national scale. The UNWTO already measures tourism output, but meetings and events have never been distinguished from this overall total.
So, the MPI Foundation spearheaded a first national study of meetings and events, releasing The Economic Contribution of Meetings Activity in Canada in 2008 and an update in 2009. This research became the model for the U.S. initiative, to which the MPI Foundation alone contributed $1 million. And now that a framework has been firmly established, countries all over the globe have the metrics to conduct studies of their own.
“Our industry has been waiting a long time for this research—patiently,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Meetings, events, trade shows and conferences—which may currently be perceived as discretionary or even frivolous in nature—will soon be recognized as the very definition of working together and creating dynamic environments for business results, consensus building and innovation.”
The U.S. report ultimately 1) develops common data and language that stakeholders can use when discussing meetings and events, 2) provides data that can be used at the national level to articulate the economic contribution that meetings and events bring to the overall economy and 3) creates a replicable methodology that allows for meaningful comparative benchmarking internationally.
So now we know. The U.S. meeting industry generated $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2009. And meetings’ $106 billion contribution to the U.S. GDP was greater than, for example, auto manufacturing ($78 billion), performing arts/spectator sports/museums ($71 billion) and information and data processing services ($76 billion).
Soon, we’ll have similar stats from countries as far flung as India, France and Brazil. For now, find out how the results affect you. Global meeting professionals can attend a free webinar offered exclusively by MPI at 2 p.m. CST Feb. 23. Find a toolkit to help you better understand the ramifications of the report at www.meetingsmeanbusiness.com.