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Meetings Mean Business: The Value of Face-to-Face

The services provided by the meetings industry often go unnoticed, but the economic impact is undeniable. In 2017, face-to-face meetings and business events brought together more than 1.5 billion people across 180 countries. They supported 26 million jobs and $2.5 trillion in total economic impact.

It stands to reason that meetings – from corporate America to Capitol Hill – have the power to influence how a city takes shape, including who lives there, works there, and visits year-to-year.

Shaping cities

Over the last decade, meetings have changed the DNA of metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Cleveland, San Francisco, San Diego, and Chicago. These convention cities have seen firsthand that one of the best ways to grow the bottom line of a business, industry, city, or municipality is to invest in face-to-face. Many have crafted their growth plans accordingly and given more focus to infrastructure and development projects with their convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs).

The result: more collaboration and better access to business opportunities in high-priority growth sectors.

Success stories

Take Philadelphia as an example, where medical and technology-related conferences are driving significant revenue, repeat visitations, and awareness of the city as a top destination for business travel. While speaking at South by Southwest (SXSW), Mayor Jim Kenney stated, “Conventions are very important to make Philadelphia known as a place to convene — where outside people can meet our people and continue creating economic growth for them and our city. I think Austin has done a fantastic job in branding itself as that kind of destination. Philadelphia has the capacity to do that [too].”

Last year, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau brought 571 meetings and events to the city, which led to $324 million in direct spending. This economic activity helped generate $500 million in economic impact for the Philadelphia community.

San Francisco offers another success story. According to Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel, strategic collaboration between the CVB, economic development agency, and other local partners is translating to long-term economic impacts.

Economic development

“It’s really hard to separate the meetings industry from our general economic development,” said D’Alessandro. “We’re lucky because we have the industry sectors that are growing so fast, and that have a global presence, but we continually rely on meetings and conventions to help foster and encourage that growth.”

With more ways than ever for people to connect virtually, there is no doubt that meetings continue to drive value and innovation for our businesses and our cities.

Julie Coker Graham and Trina Camacho-London, Co-Chairs, Meetings Mean Business Coalition, [email protected]

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