Push the Value of Meetings

By Christine Born, January 13, 2014

The meetings industry has a bigger economic impact on the U.S. economy than the auto industry. Surprised? You’re not alone.

More than two years ago, we ran a story in Connect magazine called “Bigger Than Auto,” citing the numbers supporting that conclusion, which came from a study funded by the Convention Industry Council and 14 of CIC’s constituent associations. The big numbers—$263 billion in direct spending, supported by 1.7 million jobs, contributed $106 billion to the country’s gross domestic product—were surprising when they were released in 2011. They still are.

Usually, the industry gets media and government attention when something goes wrong, such as the recent news that speakers withdrew from the February 2012 RSA Conference on cybesecurity due to allegations related to NSA privacy issues. Or the incident infamously dubbed Muffingate, a name destined to grab headlines no matter how misleading the implication or the media reports.

We hope this week’s launch of a new “Meetings Mean Business” campaign builds on the momentum of the earlier initiative begun in 2009 in the wake of the AIG scandal and the stalled economy. The hospitality and travel industry needs to maintain a more robust presence in the nation’s capital. The slogan is strong, and can be effective. Industry leaders need to be aggressive in backing it up with the people and stories, as well as the facts, that demonstrate the jobs and economic value the industry contributes. Professionals and businesses need to educate associates and local officials on the importance and business value of their face-to-face meetings.

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