Friday, 18 February 2011

Meetings Mean Business

"The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy study reveals that the U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, $263 billion in spending, a $106 billion contribution to GDP, $60 billion in labor revenue, $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.

With the country looking for effective ways to work its way out of a recession, the meetings industry plays a critical role in supporting jobs in communities across America, creating environments that foster innovation and business success."

So begins the much anticipated partnership study led by the Convention Industry Council: The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy. This updates the CIC's decade old data to show that in times of economic concern meetings do indeed mean jobs, revenue, spending, education and business. But do they mean sustainability?

Some might argue no. That in times when natural resources are scarce we should be more attentive to reducing the footprint meetings have by cutting back on air travel and incentive activities that might be deemed a financial and environmental drain and devote more investment to virtual collaboration.

Others might argue yes. That we can't afford to ignore the insight and engagement that face to face participation with our stakeholders give us to ensure we make the best decisions not only for business, but humanity, the environment and our collective quality of life.

Focusing only on the economic output - while important - only provides a limited perspective. We need to work harder to understand the corresponding environmental output as well, and the social implications of what events do, both positive and negative. Policy decisions made only on the foundation of economic benefit disregard the costs and benefits of events in terms of energy use, emissions and waste production, local air pollution, water use and food systems in host destinations and beyond.

Looking forward to the day when we can compliment these important study findings with a true understanding of the footprint of events to know if meetings mean sustainable business!

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