It may not be the first industry that comes to mind when you think of a recovering U.S. economy, but it's certainly one of the more diverse. The U.S. convention, conference and meeting industry is thriving, directly supporting 1.7 million jobs and contributing $106 billion to the GDP, $60 billion in labor revenue, $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.
That's according to a new study released by the Convention Industry Council. It took into consideration the economic contributions made by the 1.8 million meetings, trade shows, conventions, congresses, incentive events and other gatherings that take place across the country.
"As the nation grapples with effective ways to work its way out of a recession, the meetings industry plays a critical role in supporting jobs in communities across America," said Karen Kotowski, executive director of the Convention Industry Council. "Two years ago, the value of meetings, one of America's top economic and social engines, was misunderstood by governments and the public." This new research shows that meetings and conferences are not just excuses to party, play and waste money, as some government officials suggested.
There's actually quite a bit of opportunity in this industry -- even more than in others that have higher profiles. For example, the 1.7 million jobs generated by the meetings industry is more than broadcasting and communications (1.3 million), truck and rail transportation (1.5 million) and computer and electronic product manufacturing (1.1 million). The industry also helps support another 4.6 million U.S. workers, such as people who are employed by convention venues, as well as food and transportation companies that are essential to meetings and conferences.
After all, someone has to accommodate the 205 million delegates, exhibitors and organizers who attend the 1.8 million meetings held in the United States annually. Of those meetings, 1.3 million are classified as corporate or business meetings, 270,000 are conventions, conferences or congresses, 11,000 are trade shows and 66,000 are incentive meetings. The vast majority of meetings (85 percent) were conducted at venues with lodging. Meetings generate 250 million overnight stays by 117 million Americans and 5 million international attendees.
And that's not even taking into consideration the amount of learning, innovation, commerce and networking that goes on at those meetings. The benefits of those are incalculable.
So looking into jobs that are connected to the meeting industry might not be a bad idea these days. While some of the more traditional industries are still flagging, and with the booming industries such as high tech and health being extremely specialized and requiring advanced degrees, the meetings, conferences and convention industry just might be a good gateway to your next job.