How Big is the US Meetings Industry?

February 21, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Trade Shows & Events

PwC-Size-US-Meetings-Industry-Feb2014Meetings are big business in the US, according to a new economic significance study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers US along with an alliance of Convention Industry Council (CIC) members. The study quantified the size of the meetings industry in 2012 as an update to a similar study undertaken in 2009. Top-line stats? There were more than 1.8 million corporate meetings, trade shows, conventions, congresses, incentive events and other meetings that took place, drawing almost 225 million total participants. The volume of participants represented a 10% increase from the 2009 figure.

(Note: A meeting is defined as “a gathering of 10 or more participants for a minimum of four hours in a contracted venue.” More details regarding the methodology can be found in the research summary by accessing the link above.)

Of the 1.83 million meetings held, about 71% were classified as “corporate/business meetings,” where participants represent the same company, corporate group or client/provider relationships. Typically, attendance is required and travel and other expenses are paid for by the organization. These meetings drew about half of the 225 million total meeting participants in 2012.

Perhaps of more interest to marketers – the size of the trade show industry. According to the report, there were 10,900 trade shows held in 2012. While these represented less than 1% of the total number of meetings held, trade shows drew almost 27 million participants, about 12% of the overall meetings total.

Not surprisingly, a majority 55% of meetings in 2012 were hosted by corporations, with these drawing 49% of total participants.

Some more interesting statistics from the report:

  • Some 85% of meetings were held at venues with lodging, which generated more than 275 million room nights;
  • The meetings industry’s direct contribution to GDP in 2012 was determined to be $115 billion, which would make its contribution larger than the motion picture/recording industry ($113B) and the performing arts/spectator sports/museums industry ($87B);
  • Total direct spending related to meetings totaled $280.4 billion; and
  • About 15% of the estimated $865 billion of direct tourism output was generated by the meetings industry.

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