Report: Global Economic Significance of Business Events Has Reached $1.5 Trillion

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Report: Global Economic Significance of Business Events Has Reached $1.5 Trillion

By Rich Luna | Nov 12, 2018

The first comprehensive study on the economic impact of business events and the power of face-to-face meetings revealed a staggering US$1.5 trillion in worldwide spend in 2017 and nearly 30 million jobs impacted by the meeting and event industry.

The final report of the Global Economic Significance of Business Events global study released on Monday showed that business events generated US$621.4 billion of direct gross domestic product (GDP). The industry’s direct spend in 2017 was $1.07 trillion while generating $2.53 trillion in total output (business sales), according to the study.

The $1.5 trillion figure would rank the meeting and event industry as the 13th-largest in the world, ahead of the GDP of Australia, Spain, Mexico, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The $621 billion direct GPD impact would rank as the 22nd-largest economy globally.

The business events sector directly generated more output (business sales) than many large global sectors, including consumer electronics and computers and office equipment.

The study also found that globally, business events are responsible for more than 10.3 million jobs directly, while nearly 26 million jobs are directly and indirectly supported by global business events.

Business events involved more than 1.5 billion participants across more than 180 countries in 2017, the study said.

“For the first time our industry is able to prove just how formidable an economic engine business events are globally,” said Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, chair of the Event Industry Council’s (EIC) Research Committee and CEO at the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).

“This study enables everyone involved in bringing people together for meaningful face-to-face interactions to show their true value and substantial contributions to growth and opportunity,” she said.

Preliminary data from the report was announced at IMEX America last month by the EIC, who commissioned the research conducted by Oxford Economics under a groundbreaking collaboration between the EIC and its partners, IMEX, Hilton, the PCMA Education Foundation and the MPI Foundation, which was the leading sponsor of the study.

Fifty countries accounted for 96 percent of the overall direct spend, according to the study. The United States led with $325 billion, with China, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan rounding out the top five.

Asia was the largest region in terms of business event participants, representing nearly one-third of the $1.5 billion total worldwide. Western Europe ranked second with almost 30 percent, followed by North America with just over 22 percent of all attendees. The average spend per participant is US$704.

“The Global Economic Significance of Business Events is a vital tool for our industry to help both private and public sectors everywhere better understand how important business events are developing and sustaining thriving local, regional and national economies,” said Karen Kotowski, CMP, CAE, CEO of the EIC.

The report said the data from the research provides a “clear and credible statistical base on which to gain recognition for this vast and diverse industry as a vital economic driver and clearly articulates the downstream benefits to other industries and the people who work in them. Anyone who reads this report will better understand the economic significance as well as the depth and breadth of the global business events industry.”

The report further stated there are many other benefits resulting from the business events that should not be overlooked, such as providing an invaluable source of adult learning, continuing education for professional certifications and licensure, a forum for developing and maintaining professional contacts, an effective and efficient means of enhancing sales efforts and a medium for information exchange leading to innovation, new medical treatments and research breakthroughs.

Direct spend is attributed to planning, producing, attending and/or hosting business events, which is defined as a gathering of 10 or more participants for a minimum of four hours in a contracted venue and includes meetings, conferences, conventions, exhibitions and incentive travel. Not counted in the study were social, academic, recreational activities or consumer expositions.

More than 15 countries representing a diverse group of regions, national GDPs and domestic and international travel behaviors, in conjunction with third-party data across more than 180 countries, were used for an in-depth analysis of spend, arrivals, market size and activity.

The full report can be accessed here: 



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.