MEETINGS MAKE MONEY: A REVIEW OF THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF MEETINGS

Face-to-face meetings are arguably the most cost-efficient form of marketing that exists today. Conventions, trade shows, and private corporate events are unique 3-D environments, combining elements of marketing, advertising, and sales. Meetings bring targeted buyers and sellers together at one place, and at one time. Events facilitate personal interaction, networking, education, branding, and can generate both immediate and deferred sales opportunities.

Meetings are all about business: they develop relationships, generate leads, close deals, and create new customers. More than that, meetings impact local economies. Similar to a sporting event coming to a city (but even more so), meetings draw people to a city. These people spend money: according to the US Travel Association, an average attendee at a trade show spends over $1,000. And that spending creates jobs … lots of jobs! Not just jobs for most of the people reading this article, but think about all the types of jobs created: anyone that works at a convention venue (anyone, in any capacity); anyone in the hospitality business that caters to conventioneers (staffs at hotels, restaurants, and night clubs); taxi drivers; meeting planners; meeting suppliers; transportation companies; exhibit designers and builders; association and show managers; corporate exhibit managers … the list could go on and on, but space is limited.

Trade shows and meetings create an enormous economic impact. In 2012, Boston hosted 245 events at the BCEC and Hynes. 654,119 professional attendees participated in these events. These attendees came to Boston and spent approximately $656 MIL — this number includes $35.75 MIL in direct taxes. (Source: massconvention.com). Direct taxes obviously benefit an economy. But the benefit is even greater — because the people whose jobs are impacted by meetings, make more money, spend more money, and pay more taxes. Over time the economic impact multiplies. The BCEC opened in 2004. In the past ten years, the BCEC and Hynes hosted over 2400 conventions, and created an economic impact of $5.3 BIL, which includes $262 MIL in city and state taxes. These events brought people to the city, and put “heads on beds” – 5.2 MIL hotel room nights. Over 1 MIL taxi rides and 5300 jobs have been created. (Source: MCCA. Economic Impact and Annual Report. 10/02/2014). In July, 2014, the Governor of Massachusetts signed legislation authorizing a 1.3 MIL square foot expansion of the BCEC.

Okay. If the economic impact of meetings on a local economy is significant, what is the impact nationwide? It is more than significant; it is impressive. Members of the Convention Industry Council commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers to audit meetings that occurred in the US, during 2012. The study, “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U. S. Economy,” reported:

  • There were 1.83 MIL meetings in 2012.
  • 244.9 MIL participants attended these meetings.
  • 5.3 MIL jobs were created, generating $234.6 BIL in labor income.
  • $280 BIL in direct spending; another $490 BIL in indirect and induced spending.
  • $508 BIL in federal taxes, and $379 BIL in state and local taxes (total= $887 BIL).

So, how big is $508 BIL (the amount of federal taxes generated by the Industry)? Well, written like that, it may not seem so big. $508 BIL is $508,000,000,000. A billion, in the US, is 1,000 million. A billion seconds is 31 years. To count from one to a billion, would take 95 years. If a billion people stood on top of each other, the line would extend past the moon. So a billion would appear to be a pretty big number … except when it isn’t — the federal government in Washington DC spends a billion dollars every 8 hours and 20 minutes. (Source: mathforum.org). At the rate of one billion every 8 and 1/3 hours, it would take the government approximately 176.5 days to exhaust the federal tax money generated by the meetings industry.

How large is the meeting industry compared with other industries? It may surprise some to learn that meetings contribute more to the US economy than many other major US industries.

Direct Contribution to GDP of Select Industries

Estimated Value Added to GDP (in billions)

Meetings

$115.6

Motion picture and sound recording industries

$113.0

Information and data processing services

$ 80.0

Air transportation

$ 78.0

Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries

$ 71.0

Rail transportation

$ 40.0

Source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis

Meetings create opportunities for individuals, and for businesses. They are an important economic engine and one of the best kept secrets for anyone outside the industry. It is time, actually past time, to share this secret. The bottom line: Meetings make dollars and sense.