The U.S. meetings industry is firing on all cylinders, further bolstering its role as a vital segment of the national economy, according to a new Economic Significance Survey conducted by Oxford Economics.

Among the key findings of the report, commissioned by the Events Industry Council (EIC) and supported by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) and other industry partners, was the realization that meetings and events generated $325 billion in direct spending and $845 billion in business sales in 2016.

“These numbers represent a contribution of $446 billion in GDP and $104 billion of federal, state and local taxes,” said Adam Sacks, founder and president of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company. “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.”

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, when accounting for both direct and indirect impacts. Direct spending on meetings expanded 23 percent between 2009 and 2016, primarily due to increases in the number of meeting participants.

Meetings supported more direct jobs than many large manufacturing sectors, including machinery, food, auto and chemicals, according to the Oxford Economics report. The meetings industry also sustained more jobs than the telecommunications and oil and gas extraction industries.

The results presented in the report show that every dollar spent on face-to-face meetings and events generates an additional $1.60—or 160 percent—in benefits for the U.S. economy.

Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI and co-chair of MMBC, said the data confirms the critical role the meetings industry plays in connecting people and growing the economy.

“The numbers reiterate what anecdotally we always knew to be true,” Van Deventer said. “No matter the industry, investing in face-to-face meetings is a smart choice.”

There’s been a critical need for information quantifying the significance of face-to-face meetings and business events to the U.S. economy, according to ASAE Executive Vice President Susan Robertson.

“Hosting an event, convention or tradeshow brings new revenue to industries across the country,” said Robertson, who is also chair of the EIC in addition to her primary role with ASAE. “So many people and companies beyond the scope of the events industry itself benefit from its reach.”

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 percent of total travel and tourism spending in the U.S.

Data for the Economic Significance Survey, conducted by Oxford Economics, was compiled through a nationwide survey of meeting planners, exhibitors and venues and represents nearly 9,000 domestic business travelers, almost 50,000 international air travelers and approximately 11,000 hotels.

[Click here to view or download a PDF version of the Economic Significance Study].