Meetings, conventions, exhibitions, and incentive travel generated $122.3 billion in direct spending in the United States last year, according to the Convention Industry Council's Economic Impact Study, released in September. Association-sponsored events accounted for two-thirds, or $81.9 billion, of direct spending, while corporate meetings and events comprised the rest.
“What the study says more than anything else is that the industry is incredibly resilient,” says Mary Power, CIC's president and CEO. “We saw some of the greatest growth up to 1999, then we had the devastating effects for two years after 9/11, and now it is coming back strong again,” she says. “The recovery of late 2003 and 2004 are indicators that the industry takes the bumps in stride and is fairly quick to rebuild.” Between 2003 and 2004, direct spending rose about $3 billion, and direct tax impact climbed from $20.8 billion to $21.4 billion, the study reports.
Conducted for CIC by Veris Consulting LLC, Reston, Va., the study was compiled from various data sources, including the ExPact Study by Destination Marketing Association International, and statistics from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, Travel Industry Association, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
Other findings from the study:
The industry employs 1.7 million people on a full-time basis and is the 29th-largest contributor to the country's gross national product. Although the meeting industry is not listed on the GNP, based on CIC's numbers, it would fall between the “nursing and residential care facilities” and “pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing” industries.
Looking at different industry segments, conventions and exhibitions account for $67.9 billion, or 55.5 percent, of the total direct spending pie. Corporate andgenerated $48.1 billion in spending, or 39.4 percent of the total, while incentive travel makes up the remaining 5.1 percent generating $6.2 billion in spending. (Conventions and exhibitions are defined as those events where exhibitions make up the largest component of the meeting, while meetings have a larger meetings component.)
The largest share of the convention and exhibition dollar, 35 percent, is spent in hotels. The rest is widely distributed throughout local economies with 24 percent spent on air transportation, 14 percent in restaurants, and 12 percent on business services. Overall, the meetings, conventions, incentive travel, and exhibitions industry accounts for 36 percent of the hotel industry's operating revenue and 17 percent of the air transportation industry's operating income.
CIC last issued an economic impact report in 1994. That study found that the industry generated $82.8 billion in direct spending with conventions and exhibitions accounting for 63.1 percent, corporate and association meetings 32.6 percent, and incentive travel about 4.2 percent. The increase in meetings versus convention exhibitions reflects the recent trend toward regional meetings, Power says.
“One of the primary purposes of the report is to gain recognition from government of the value of the meetings and exhibition industry. We are sharing the information with all of our member organizations for their use in dealing with state, regional, and federal governments,” says Power. “We also hope our CVB [convention and visitors bureau] partners will make good use of the information with their government officials.”
Complete copies of the report are available from the CIC for $95. For more information go to www.conventionindustry.org.