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Meeting Professionals Need to Speak the Language of Meetings Value

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On February 11, the Convention Industry Council released an update to the study, the Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy. Originally released in 2009, new figures show significant increases in meeting participants, tax contribution and job growth from 2009 to 2012. 

During the 2012 calendar year, 1.83 million meetings were held in the U.S., attended by 225 million participants, providing more than $115 billion in contribution to GDP to fuel the economy. Meetings contribution to GDP surpasses that of the air transportation, motion picture, sound recording, performing arts and spectator sport industries.

The data proves organizations continue to value and place a priority on face-to-face meetings, even during a recovering economy. Total economic output of meetings was valued at $770.4 billion dollars in 2012, a staggering figure. Not only were more meetings held – they were attended by more people. 

Meetings increased employment at a time when many industries showed no growth. In 2012, meetings employed nearly 1.8 million people. That translates to 8.3 percent more jobs created by meetings in 2012 than in 2009, nearly double the average employment growth rate during that time.

Meetings also generated $88 billion in federal, state and local taxes to fund and support communities across the country. The majority of meeting participants in 2012 traveled 50 miles or more to attend a meeting – consuming hotel rooms, restaurant meals and transportation services, positively impacting cities and businesses across the country. Meetings really do mean business, and in the coming months you will hear more about what our industry is doing to ensure policymakers, consumers and business leaders truly understand our worth and impact through the Meetings Mean Business campaign. 

As meeting professionals, we need to start speaking in those terms, especially to the mainstream press. We released some of our economic data during the Meetings Mean Business press conference at Convening Leaders in Boston, and industry leaders spoke about the business value of meetings. I thought the press might cover some of that, as well as what was happening during the conferences itself.

The Boston Globe did cover PCMA’s conference. Unfortunately, the headlines and the story were about the wining and dining planners received from suppliers and all the "free stuff" they received. Meeting planners, some with letters after their name, were quoted about skinny jeans and spa treatments, not the education they were receiving during the sessions and how that helped them do a better job, save their companies money, learn new technologies or any one of the real reasons their organizations might have sent them to Boston.

We need to do better. Please take a look at our study, as well as its accompanying inforgraphic and the Meetings Mean Business website and become educated about the real value of our industry ... and start talking about that.

Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP, is the chief executive officer of the Convention Industry Council.   

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