Meetings & Events Industry Releases New Economic Impact Data

Key findings from a new report show how face-to-face meetings and business events support 5.9 million jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue. Download a quick Fact Sheet.

Washington, D.C. – Face-to-face meetings and events play an integral role in bolstering our national economy and key business sectors, according to a new report from Oxford Economics, commissioned by the Events Industry Council, and supported by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and other industry partners. Data for the report was compiled through a nationwide survey of meeting planners, exhibitors and venues and represents almost 9,000 domestic business travelers, almost 50,000 international air travelers and 11,000 hotels.

“Our report illustrates that the meetings and events industry continues to grow across all segments as it contributes hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue to the U.S. economy and supports 5.9 million jobs,” says Adam Sacks, founder and president of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company. “Notably in 2016, meetings generated $325 billion of direct spending and $845 billion in business sales. These numbers represent a contribution of $446 billion in GDP and $104 billion of federal, state and local taxes. The total tax impact per household was $879 per U.S. household.”

In total, 1.9 million meetings were held in 2016, with 251 million participants. On average, the direct spending associated with 43 meeting participants supported one U.S. job, including both direct and indirect impacts.

Meetings supported more direct jobs than many large manufacturing sectors, including machinery, food, auto, and chemicals. It sustained more jobs than the telecommunications and oil and gas extraction industries as well.

The cumulative economic impact of face-to-face meetings and events is hard to deny. Results show that every dollar spent on face-to-face meetings and events generates an additional $1.60 – or 160 percent – in benefits for the U.S. economy.

Direct spending on meetings expanded 23 percent between 2009 and 2016, primarily due to increases in the number of meeting participants.

“There’s been a critical need for information quantifying the significance of face-to-face meetings and business events to the U.S. economy,” says Susan Robertson, executive vice president of the American Society of Association Executives and chair of the Events Industry Council. “Hosting an event, convention or trade show brings new revenue to industries across the country. So many people and companies beyond the scope of the events industry itself benefit from its reach.”

Business services was the industry most impacted by meetings in 2016, with $196.3 billion in total economic output. The finance, insurance, and real estate industry followed with $141.1 billion in total economic output, followed by the manufacturing industry with $92.6 billion in total output.

Other industries that were positively impacted by face-to-face meetings and events include:

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

“This new research confirms that our industry plays a critical role in connecting people and bolstering crucial segments of our national economy,” says Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. “The numbers reiterate what anecdotally we always knew to be true – no matter the industry, investing in face-to-face meetings is a smart choice.”

To read the full report, please click here.

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About the Report: To quantify the economic significance of the U.S. meetings sector for the Events Industry Council, Oxford Economics analyzed industry information and prepared a comprehensive measure of sector activity and corresponding economic impacts. This research represents the most comprehensive analysis of meetings sector impacts to date.

The Events Industry Council is comprised of more than 30 event industry associations representing more than 103,500 individuals and 19,500 organizations involved in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. The council facilitates the exchange of information develops programs to promote professionalism within the industry and educates the public on its profound economic impact. For more information, visit

Meetings Mean Business is an industry-wide coalition to showcase the undeniable value that business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences and conventions bring to people, businesses and communities. By rallying industry advocates, working with stakeholders, conducting original research, engaging with outside voices and more, the coalition brings the industry together to emphasize its importance. Comprised of over 60 members, the coalition unites the meetings industry with one strong and powerful voice. For more information, visit

Oxford Economics is one of the world’s foremost independent global advisory firms, providing reports, forecasts and analytical tools on 200 countries, 100 industrial sectors and over 4,000 locations. Our best of-class global economic and industry models and analytical tools give us an unparalleled ability to forecast external market trends and assess their economic, social and business impact. For more information, please visit

ESPA Recognizes Event Services Stars

Louisville CVB’s Doris Sims Receives 2017 Executive Excellence Award

For her commitment and dedication to the profession of event services, Doris Sims, Vice President of Destination Services, Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Executive Excellence Award, the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) announced today.

ESPA recognized Sims and other industry leaders during “Rockin’ Nashville,” the association’s annual conference, earlier this month at the Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown.

The Executive Excellence Award is given annually to a leader for his or her commitment and dedication to the profession of event services and for providing leadership to members of their service team. The award winner is nominated by a member of his or her staff and must demonstrate quality assurance, as well as support staff development, growth and continuing education.

“We’re thrilled to name Doris Sims as our Executive Excellence winner for 2017,” said Amy Cabe, president of ESPA. “She exemplifies the outstanding service, teamwork and leadership that we all strive to attain. She sets an example for the next generation of service professionals.

“Event services is more than a job for our award winners,” Cabe said. “It’s a passion that drives them to be the best. We are truly proud to recognize them with ESPA’s highest honors.”

The Meeting Professional of the Year Award recognizes the hard-working meeting professional who exhibits personal and professional characteristics that create an environment that focuses on teamwork, and shows support for the event services profession. This year, the award was presented to Linda Finnerty, Director of Meetings and Events, Council on Social Work Education.

The Successful Meetings’ Convention Service Manager of the Year Award, presented in partnership with ESPA, honors those who have demonstrated to the most demanding critics in the business —meeting planners — their ability to provide the highest level of service. The winners come from three different facets of the industry—a convention center, a hotel and a convention and visitors bureau. They have two things in common: a can-do attitude and attention to detail. The 2017 CSMs of the Year (in partnership with Successful Meetings) are:

  • Convention Center: Lachelle J. Harrison, CMP, Events Manager, Walter E. Washington Convention Center
  • CVB: Lisa Bethea, CTA, CTIS, Tourism Sales & Convention Services Manager, Frisco Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Hotel: Jennifer Thomsen, CSM, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach

The William H. Just, CAE, CMP Memorial Award recognizes an ESPA member who has earned his or her CMP designation within the last five years and remains in good standing with the association. Established in honor of the late William Just, recipients are chosen for incorporating creativity, professionalism and leadership into their endeavors. This year, the scholarship was awarded to Courtney Hunt, CMP, Destination Service Manager, Visit Baton Rouge.

The Donald S. Freeman Jr. ESPA Conference Scholarship pays for a student to attend the ESPA Conference. This year’s recipient was Sydney Bedford, a senior at Texas A&M University, majoring in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences with a concentration in Event and Tourism Management.

Heard it from Planner Diane Haggerty, Manager, Meetings and Conference, Metal Powder Industries Federation

One experience I had with a CSM that I’ll never forget is staff had been busy preparing for the conference all day in one of the meeting rooms at the hotel. Late that afternoon, the CSM comes in with a banquet server and these two large carts that had multiple shelves on each. On each shelf, there was individual bags of snacks, trail mix, granola bars, candy bars, pastries, bottles of water, soft drinks, etc. Our CSM explained to us that this was a complimentary service for our staff so that if we needed a pick-me-up throughout the conference it would be here for us. It came in handy so often as it was something quick we could grab on the go… especially on the days when there wasn’t any time for us to eat a meal.

Diane Haggerty
Manager, Meetings and Conferences
Metal Powder Industries Federation

November Events Trend: Campfire Sessions

ESPA’s Executive Director Lynn McCullough visited IMEX in October and experienced neat formats for event interaction and sessions.  During Campfire sessions, attendees gathered around a facilitator in small groups using seats that ranged from stools to soft seating.  No tables needed.  No slides.  The speaker is not always right – the idea is interactive discussion around a designated topic in a relaxed setting.  Cool custom printed cardboard stools add an interactive, fun component – the stools can be assembled by each participant as step one of the campfire chat (visit  Campfire sessions were held in exhibitor booths (pictured on the link below is Thorben Grosser, Eventmobi leading one) and also in IMEX’s Inspiration Hub, sponsored by Maritz Global Events.

Congrats new ESPA CMPs!

Congratulations to these ESPA Members that have just recently earned their CMP designation!

Michael Cavanaugh, CMP, Travel Portland, Sarah Furtado, CMP, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Heather N. Lightsey, CMP, Emerald Coast Convention Center, Jill Philbrook, CMP, Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, Elizabeth Adams, CMP, New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.

October Events Trend: CSR activities

CSR activities come in many shapes and forms. There are amazing outings where attendees can get out into our communities and be hands-on with local service organizations. Cleaning up a beach, working at a food bank. These are all great opportunities. Occasionally clients may have limited time or budgets to take groups to off-site activities like these. Do you — whether hotel, Center or CVB — readily offer or educate your planner clients about opportunities that can be done right under the roof at the event venue? Make it easy for your planners! Beyond your own grassroots effort, local and nationwide organizations can organize this type of activity that groups can do in between sessions, on breaks, or even on registration day after they pick up their badge. The result – superb networking while doing good and without significant time investment. ESPA will host Clean the World hygiene kit assembly at the Conference, and others such as Shopping for Change also offer this service.

36 ESPA Members Shine while Celebrating Services at 2017 National Celebrate Services Week!

ESPA members broke the record books! This year we had 36 members hosting or participating in 32 National Celebrate Services Week events across North America.

That’s so awesome!

Take a look at our complete list of events. ESPA would like to thank these members who took the time and effort to celebrate our profession, give back to our communities and bring together the various teams within your hospitality community to network, connect and represent the great profession that we are!

Two ESPA Members Earn Best in Show (PCMA): Tiffany Eck, CMP and Roberta Tisdul, CMP

Congratulations to our ESPA members recognized with PCMA’s Best in Show program. Through this program, PCMA accepts nominations for outstanding meeting and event professionals working behind the scenes, and on the front lines of the industry.


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