What One Conference Tells Us About the Value of Our Industry

September 25, 2015
By Anthony Miller, Chief Marketing Officer at Lanyon

Last week, I was thrilled to be in San Francisco, attending one of the greatest conferences in the world – Dreamforce.

The conference took over the “The City by the Bay” — as people flocked to hear the latest innovations from Salesforce and enjoy everything that San Francisco has to offer. From the beautiful weather, the legendary cable cars, Alcatraz, Nob Hill, Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, attendees converged on the city’s hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, historic sites and other destinations.

The conference was such a citywide event that nearly every hotel was sold out. Therefore, the organizers created the well-named “Dreamboat,” which is essentially a cruise ship that attendees could stay at during the conference, complete with all the amenities of an actual cruise…Including a martini bar. That must have been a great time!

The experience got me thinking about the massive economic impact that this one conference has on San Francisco and its surrounding areas.

If that one user conference with all of its attendees can have an economic impact of more than 200 million dollars for one city, imagine what the overall spend and economic impact is for the thousands of meetings held every day across the country. What’s the untold economic impact that these meetings and events bring to cities from San Francisco to Miami — and all points in between?

As we saw after the downturn of 2008, one of the first line items companies cut is meetings and events. Of course, we in the industry know this is folly. We know that, fundamentally, business is better when people get together. Our friends at the U.S. Travel Association calculated that for every dollar spent in meetings and events, a $9.50 ROI is delivered — and that’s just the impact for the organization holding the meeting. What’s the economic impact felt by the airlines, rental car companies, CVBs, hotels, restaurants and shops?

These are some of the important reasons why Lanyon joined the Meetings Mean Business (MMB) board of directors. The mission of MMB is to showcase the incredible value that meetings and events contribute to the organizations that run them and the economy as a whole. It’s a story that must be told.

It’s vitally important — not only for our industry, but also for those industries and jobs that rely on meetings and events, whether directly or indirectly — from restaurants, hotels, airlines, to the guy selling clam chowder in the giant bread-bowls in Fisherman’s Wharf.

As we come out of a summer that featured some economic uncertainty rattling the market, we must make sure our industry’s voice is heard, and that decision-makers understand the economic impact that meetings and events have on the U.S. economy, and on their own businesses. If not, we could see a massive ripple effect hurting a wide swath of industries around the country and a repeat of the mistakes from 2008.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the biz too. Let’s all work together to raise awareness of the value that meetings and events bring to the organizations that run them and the economy as a whole.