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Face-to-face meetings and events bolster the U.S. economy and business sectors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Face-to-face meetings and events play an integral role in bolstering our national economy and key business sectors, according to a new report from Oxford Economics, commissioned by the Events Industry Council (EIC), Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) and industry partners. Data for the report was compiled through a nationwide survey of meeting planners, exhibitors and venues and represents almost 9,000 domestic business travelers, almost 50,000 international air travelers and 11,000 hotels.

“Our report illustrates that the meetings and events industry continues to grow across all segments as it contributes hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue to the U.S. economy and supports 5.9 million jobs,” says Adam Sacks, founder and president of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company. “Notably in 2016, meetings generated $325 billion of direct spending and $845 billion in business sales. These numbers represent a contributing $446 billion of GDP and $104 billion of federal, state and local taxes.”

In total, 1.9 million meetings were held in 2016, with 251 million participants. On average, the direct spending associated with 43 meeting participants supported one U.S. job, including both direct and indirect impacts.

Meetings supported more direct jobs than many large manufacturing sectors, including machinery, food, auto, and chemicals. It sustained more jobs than the telecommunications and oil and gas extraction industries as well.

The cumulative economic impact of face-to-face meetings and events is hard to deny. Results show that every dollar spent on face-to-face meetings and business events generates an additional $1.60 in benefits for the U.S. economy – a 160% return on investment.

“There’s been a critical need for information quantifying the significance of face-to-face meetings and business events to the U.S. economy,” says Susan Robertson, executive vice president of the American Society of Association Executives and chair of the Events Industry Council. “Hosting an event, convention or trade show brings new revenue to industries across the country. So many people and companies beyond the scope of the events industry itself benefit from its reach.”

Results also show that business services was the industry most impacted by meetings in 2016, with $196.3 billion in total economic output. The finance, insurance, and real estate industry followed with $141.1 billion in total economic output, followed by the manufacturing industry with $92.6 billion in total output.

Other industries that were positively impacted by face-to-face meetings and events include:

  • Food & Beverage: Meeting organizers and hosts spent $48 billion to provide food and beverage services at meetings.
  • Hotels & Lodging: Meetings generated 300 million room nights annually, representing nearly $50 billion of spending on accommodations.
  • Travel & Tourism: Meetings-related travel expenses represented 13.2% of total travel and tourism spending in the U.S.

“This new research that confirms that face-to-face meetings and events play a critical role in connecting people and driving business results across the country,” says Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. “The numbers reiterate what anecdotally we always knew to be true – no matter the industry, investing in face-to-face meetings is a smart choice.”

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