Study Finds That Meetings and Events Are Essential for a Thriving U.S. Economy

Anyone who lives long enough and pays attention knows that the U.S. economy (or indeed, any economy) involves a lot of moving part, and goes through cycles of ups and downs. It’s not always easy to understand how business decisions contribute to the larger economy. As a business owner or conference organizer, you may look at events as little more than a major expense with no guaranteed returns, but that’s not true.

Meetings and events not only bring visibility and prestige to corporations, but according to a study entitled “Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy”, commissioned by the Events Industry Council and conducted by independent global advisory firm Oxford Economics (with support from the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and other partners), corporate and industry meetings and events actually help to bolster the U.S. economy and contribute to a stable job market.

It’s important for corporate event hosts to understand the value they gain from booking a venue, finding notable speakers, planning activities, and hiring a certified meeting planner from a reputable global meeting services organization like American Meetings, Inc. (AMI). Events certainly entail some up-front expense, but corporations that host such gatherings can gain a lot in return and support a strong U.S. economy in the process, which is good for business. Here are just a few things you should know about the importance of meetings and events when it comes to maintaining a thriving U.S economy.

Meetings and Events Fuel Domestic Spending
The 2019 report on “Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy”, updated from the prior version released in 2009, shows the positive economic impact meetings and events have on the U.S. economy. For starters, meetings and events generate hundreds of billions of dollars in spending annually, significantly contributing to the GDP.

In 2016, an estimated 1.9 million meetings and events were held across the U.S., generating approximately $325 billion in direct spending and $845 billion in associated business sales. This, in turn, contributed about $446 billion to the GDP, as well as generating an estimated $104 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

Meetings and events also contribute significant amounts of money to specific segments of the U.S. market. Business services saw the greatest spend in 2016, generating an estimated $196.3 billion related to meetings and events. Finance, insurance, and real estate collectively brought in $141.1 billion, while the manufacturing industry claimed $92.6 billion. Food and beverage industries contracted to provide meals and refreshments for meetings and events raked in an estimated $48 billion, while hotels providing lodgings for event attendees saw about $50 billion in spending on accommodations, thanks to the call for 300 million rooms.

Tourism is another industry that flourishes thanks to meetings and events, with guests traveling from all over the globe to attend. An estimated 13.2% of spending on travel and tourism in the U.S. is associated with the meetings and events industry. Interestingly, international attendees only make up about 2% of the guests at U.S. events, but they account for 11% of associated spending, likely because they extend their trips to include vacation time abroad. This accounted for $38 billion in direct spending alone in 2016.

Anyone who doubts the positive impact of meetings and events need only look at the spending and revenue generated by this industry. According to Kelly Cabitt-Miller, Sr. VP of Internal Operations at AMI “Spending on meetings and events continues to grow year over year, and this benefits business that see returns from their spending, associated industries that provide goods and services, and the U.S. economy as a whole.”

Jobs Go Beyond a Certified Meeting Planner or Conference Organizer
In addition to creating a platform for spending that contributes to the U.S. economy, the meetings and events industry also helps to support the U.S. job market. Naturally, meeting services organizations are positively impacted by annual increases in meetings and events, which help to support the market for a variety of professional positions, such as certified meeting planner, meeting coordinator, conference organizer, travel director, creative director, event technology specialist, and more.

However, meetings and events also funnel money into several adjacent industries, namely hospitality and tourism, providing the basis for stability and even job growth. Event hosts must work with their conference organizer or event planner to book a suitable venue, decorate for function and visual appeal, provide catering for guests, make arrangements for travel and lodgings, and book entertainment. This spending supports millions of jobs across the U.S.

In addition, corporations must hire professionals that are capable of planning and executing meetings and events, not only through outsourcing, but among their ranks of employees. Marketing, PR, and event specialists could find work in a diverse array of industries, from healthcare and legal, to retail and technology, and beyond. Meetings and events are noted for supporting more direct jobs than giants in manufacturing, telecommunications, and even oil and gas.

Participation in Events Continues to Increase
Many businesses already recognize the benefits inherent to hosting meetings and events, even if they aren’t necessarily aware of the benefits to the U.S. economy. Because businesses are willing to spend to create attractive and memorable events, more and more people attend meetings and event each year, and this, in turn, fuels the growth of the industry.

The event industry continues to grow, as do adjacent industries like tourism and hospitality, and the revenue generated by meetings and events is inextricably linked. Between 2009 and 2016, direct spending on corporate events grew by 23%, and every dollar spent resulted in an additional $1.60 in economic benefits for the U.S. This is due almost entirely to the growing number of people interested in attending events. In 2016, 251 million participants attended meetings and events.

For corporations considering hosting meetings and events or debating continuing a long tradition of doing so, the proof is in the pudding. With talented and creative experts like the professionals at AMI to ensure that every meeting and event shows the greatest returns, you can make the most of your spending, while contributing to a stable and supportive U.S. economy as an added bonus.


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