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New Study Proves It: Face-to-Face Meetings Mean Business for the U.S. Economy

February 26, 2018
By Nan Marchand Beauvois, managing director of Meetings Mean Business

In an age of Skype, social media and conference calls, many have come to assume that face-to-face business meetings and business events like industry conventions are obsolete and unnecessary—but new economic impact data shows that could not be farther from the truth.

A new research study from Oxford Economics, commissioned by the Events Industry Council and supported by U.S. Travel’s Meetings Mean Business Coalition, shows that the meetings and events industry (which includes convention center staff, meetings and events planners, etc.) directly supported more jobs than many large manufacturing sectors, as well as even the telecommunications and oil and gas extraction industries.

According to Oxford’s report, in 2016 face-to-face business meetings and business events supported a total economic impact of:

     5.9 million U.S. jobs
●     $845 billion in economic output (business sales, put simply)
●     $446 billion in U.S. GDP
●     $104 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.

That last one is important. On average, each participant in a face-to-face business meeting, whether they traveled to another office across town for a meeting or flew to a different city for a convention, supported $416 in tax revenue (specifically, $251 in federal tax revenue and $165 in state and local tax revenue). Calculated across the country, that means every in-person meeting attendee helped save the average U.S. household $879 in total taxes.

Meeting in person brings major benefits to the U.S. economy overall, as well. In 2016, every dollar spent on face-to-face meetings and events has generated an additional $1.60 for the U.S. economy. That’s because the meetings and events industry spends heavily on services provided by other business sectors, including:

●     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 in spending on accommodations.
●     Travel & Tourism: Meetings-related travel expenses represented 13.2 percent of total travel and tourism spending in the U.S.

While the meetings and events industry—not to mention the travel industry—is one with considerable reach, and has long known that meetings truly mean business, there’s been a lack of information exactly quantifying their worth. Now, thanks to Oxford’s study, we know how valuable face-to-face meetings are for the U.S. economy, and more importantly, American workers and households.  

This blog post was originally published by the U.S. Travel Association.