One of the bedrock economic indicators for the convention industry over the years has been average delegate/exhibitor expenditures—data compiled by the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus in its Convention Income Survey Report, last released in 1998. Last week, IACVB released a revamped, expanded report called ExPact, short for expenditure impact.

The study is based on surveys of 86 participating bureaus, 12,920 delegates, 1,286 exhibiting companies, and 77 event organizers. Among the key findings:

  • Delegates spend on average $945 per event or $266 per day. The average length of stay is 3.6 nights. The average for delegate spending increased 36 percent from 1998 to 2004, while average length of stay increased 15 percent.

  • Lodging costs account for 77 percent of delegate spending, and food and beverage accounts for 29 percent.

  • Direct spending contributed to the local economy per exhibiting company: $6,753. Per event organization: $454,673

  • Per delegate spending by association or event organization: $96 per event or $22 per day. Food and beverage remains the largest share of event organizer expenditures.

  • The study found that for the average event, delegates stay in a designated hotel 81% of the time.

  • Larger destinations tend to draw larger events and therefore have higher cost per delegate and cost per event expenditures.


A new product resulting from the study will be an online calculator tool for estimating the direct spending projections for any type of event, says IACVB president/CEO Michael Gehrisch. He adds that ExPact data will be shared with the Convention Industry Council to help with CIC’s economic impact study, currently underway. —Regina McGee