New Meetings Mean Business Study Shows Industry Contributes $446 Billion to GDP

What industry creates more jobs in the United States than auto manufacturing, chemical manufacturing (including pharmaceuticals), and oil and gas? As an event professional, you know intuitively that it is the event industry. A new study by Tourism Economics (a division of Oxford Economics) for the Events Industry Council and Meetings Mean Business Coalition showed that bringing people together for face-to-face meetings has massive impacts on everything from direct spending at venues to indirect spending through the supply chain and spending by people working in the industry.

In total, the report showed that the industry generates a 160 percent return with $1.60 put into circulation for every $1 spent, including injecting fresh tax dollars into cities where meetings are held, with international travelers having an even larger impact because they spend more and stay longer. That is all on top of the important financial contributions to building knowledge at scientific conferences, sales generation at industry events, and networking and career development that happens at customer events and whenever people come together.

Here are some of the big numbers found in a closer look at the important work you do every day.

  • Some 1.9 million meetings were held in 2016, with 251 million participants. To put that huge number in perspective, that is more people than the entire population of Brazil.
  • Approximately $325 billion in direct spending was generated in 2016, and $446 billion contributed to gross domestic product (GDP). That direct spending figure is more than the entire GDP of Norway for the same year.
  • These meetings resulted in $845 billion in sales and a lot more connections for future deals.
  • Meetings also contributed $104 billion in federal, state and local taxes, a number that breaks down to a total impact of $879 per U.S. household.

Meetings Mean Business, along with U.S. Travel, ASAE, Events Industry Council, and other coalition members plan to use these numbers to convince policymakers of the importance of supporting unfettered access to meetings through clear visa policies and investment in event infrastructure. The fact that the industry has grown 23 percent since measurements first started in 2009—a year many predicted the decline of the industry—is also a strong argument for the prospects of a career in bringing people together face to face, something you probably also already knew.