How Much Are Meetings Worth to the U.S. Economy?

A new study looks at the different ways meetings contribute the U.S. economy.

While the meetings sector has emerged as a significant contributor to national economies in the past several decades, the value of the sector has been difficult to measure due to lack of research and consistency. The Convention Industry Council's new study, "The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy," quantifies the economic contributions made by the nearly 1.8 million tradeshows, conventions, congresses, incentive events, and other meetings that took place across the country in 2009. The study, conducted by PwC US and assisted by a team of industry researchers, spanned more than a year in research and analysis and is the first-ever study of the size and scope of its kind. Here's an overview of some of the key findings:

2009 Meetings in the United States

Meeting Type Meetings Participants % Participants
Corporate/business 1,266,200 107,187,000 52%
Conventions/conferences/congresses 269,800 51,104,000 25%
Tradeshows 10,700 24,800,000 12%
Incentive meetings 66,000 8,154,000 4%
Other meetings 178,100 13,479,000 7%
TOTAL 1,790,800 204,724,000  

Meetings' Direct Contribution to GDP

The meetings industry directly contributed $106 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2009, ranking it higher than several high-profile industries. Here's a look at where it fell among other industries:

Industry Estimated Value Added to GDP (in millions)
Healthcare and social assistance $1,058,000
Legal services $219,000
Oil and gas extraction $142,000
Meetings $106,096
Manufacturing motor vehicles, bodies and trailers, and parts $78,000
Information and data-processing services $76,000
Air transportation $62,000

Total Direct Spending From Meetings

Total direct spending associated with U.S. meetings activity in 2009 is estimated at more than $263 billion.

Direct spending by commodity:

Top-Three Meetings and Other Commodities
Commodity Direct Spending (in millions)
Meeting planning and production $108,968
Venue rental $10,565
Other meetings-related commodities $31,135

$113 billion: The amount of direct spending in the meetings industry related to travel and tourism commodities, such as lodging, food service, and transportation.

Top-Three Travel and Tourism Commodities
Commodity Direct Spending (in millions)
Accommodation $34,896
Food and beverage $26,389
Air transportation $17,814

Total Economic Contributions From Meetings Activity

The economic significance of meetings activity is based on the following five items: output (sales or revenue), contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), employment, labor income, and taxes.

2009 meetings industry totals

  • Output: $907 billion
  • Contribution to GDP: $458 billion
  • Employment: 6.3 million jobs
  • Labor income: $271 billion
  • Taxes: $64 billion in federal taxes and $46 billion in state and local taxes.