The LGBT community has a major financial and cultural impact within the meetings industry, according to the results of independent research released by the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association (MPA).
The research indicated that one-third of LGBT MPA’s members planned six to 10 events and spent more than $2 million annually, while 35 percent of its members spent between $100,000 and $500,000 annually.
Taken as an average, the LGBT MPA’s 1,200 members spend approximately $250,000 per event, totaling more than $300 million per year.
“The financial impact is significant,” said David Jefferys, founder and executive director of LGBT MPA, which he launched in August 2016 as the first association dedicated to LGBT meeting professionals.
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Jeffreys added that the $300 million-plus figure has the potential to grow exponentially.
“We're a community that is educated, we're well compensated, we've been in the industry a long time, we plan a lot of meetings and we spend a lot of money,” he said.
The research, which was led by Dr. Eric D. Olson of Iowa State University's Department of Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management and sponsored by the LGBT MPA and the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, also revealed the makeup of the organization’s growing membership and programming interests.
- Length of time in the meetings industry: 11 to 20 years, 34 percent; less than 10 years, 27.8 percent (The rest is made up of suppliers and industry vendors.)
- Most important membership benefits: networking and education
“We were not surprised with the research’s conclusion regarding our members’ backgrounds and professional development requests,” Jefferys said. “Networking and education are key elements in our mission and two of the reasons we started the association.”
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The results of the study point to the growing influence of the LGBT meeting planning community, which is indicative of a time when diversity and inclusion are becoming an increasingly important part of meetings, according to Jeffreys.
“According to a Temple University School of Hospitality study in early 2019, 45 percent of planners make a decision, for example on a destination, based on diversity and inclusion,” Jeffreys said.
Educating the Industry on LGBT Impact and Issues
One of the LGBT MPA’s objectives is to further connect with destinations, suppliers and associations, cultivate diversity and inclusion, and have a growing impact as a community.
For the past three years, the association has been collaborating on LGBT events and sponsorship initiatives at annual events of major industry associations such as PCMA and MPI and with key industry suppliers.
Jeffreys said the association is also stepping up its educational program for members as well as the industry with courses and speaking engagements covering topics such as “putting the pride into an event” and LGBT-inclusive contractual issues.
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According to the LGBT MPA, statistically, there are an estimated 100,000 meeting professionals currently practicing in the U.S. LGBT MPA estimates 8,000 to 12,000 of these are members of the LGBT community.
Jeffreys said the association is hoping to grow its membership to 2,000—from the current 1,200—in 2019. Membership in LGBT MPA is free for LGBT professionals.
For more information, visit www.lgbtmpa.com.
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