The Convention Industry Council has launched what could be the most ambitious study ever on the economic impact of the meetings industry, sending out surveys on April 1 to meeting planners at its 32 member organizations.

“This is the most comprehensive study to ever be undertaken for the meetings, conventions, exhibitions, and events industry," said Deborah Sexton, 2010 CIC chair and president, and chief executive officer of the Professional Convention Management Association, in a press release.

The study, being conducted by Robert Canton, project director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, will collect data on the overall meetings industry—meetings, conventions, exhibitions, and events—in order to quantify its economic contribution to jobs, taxes, and the national economy. According to CIC’s Chief Operating Officer Karen Kotowski, PWC has not released information on the number of surveys that have been sent out, but she says the recipients represent “a broad cross-section of the meetings industry, and we expect the results to deliver data that the industry can use to articulate the economic value that meetings and face-to-face events represent.” Results are expected to be published in the third quarter of this year. Part of the project will include an effort to expand the United Nations World Tourism Organization's system of tracking economic data related to travel. WTO, Kotowski says, has “a satellite account for travel, and we want to get an extension to that account to measure the meetings component to travel, which isn’t currently measured, and could be useful data for future economic studies. The Bureau of Economic Analysis, a U.S. government body, uses the WTO accounts, and our research team is in contact with them to hopefully make this happen.”

"The results of this study, along with CIC’s recently launched ‘Face Time’ messaging campaign, will provide the data and tell the story about the economic, business, and human value of face-to-face meetings and events. I urge everyone who receives the survey to fill it out and be part of this vital industry initiative," added Sexton. Planners who complete the survey will receive an executive summary of the results. Participating planners will also have the option to have their name and organization's name listed in the acknowledgement.

The Face Time campaign is a grassroots marketing initiative launched in January by CIC to increase public awareness of the benefits of meetings.

Eleven CIC member organizations are funding the study, including the American Society of Association Executives, the Destination & Travel Foundation, the MPI Foundation, PCMA Education Foundation, the Association of Destination Management Executives, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the Financial and Insurance Conference Planners, the International Special Events Society, Exhibition Industry Foundation, Site, and the U.S. Travel Association.

For more information, go to www.conventionindustry.org.