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Meetings and Conventions: Impact Beyond Measure

On April 7, more than 70 events in nearly two-dozen countries will honor and recognize the impact that meetings and conventions have on businesses, economies and communities as part of Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID).

The global day of advocacy, now in its second year, is spearheaded by Meetings Mean Business, a United States-based coalition with more than 50 members focused on showcasing the value of business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences and conventions.

“When individuals think of travel, they often think of family travel and tourism, with meetings, conventions, trade shows and similar events often being lost in the fray,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio. “But these important events are no less economically impactful.”.

Across the United States, the meeting and event industry contributes approximately $280 billion annually to the economy. In San Antonio, those numbers are just as significant.

In 2016, more than 600 groups booked meetings in the city, equating to 930,000 group room nights. One of the largest conventions/meetings held in San Antonio last year was the Texas Music Educators Association’s annual convention, which welcomed more than 27,000 individuals to the city and booked more than 19,000 room nights for a total economic impact of approximately $17 million.

“Room nights are significant, but it is important to also need to take into account the peripheral spending effect that cities experience when these large events come to our community,” Matej said. “That ripple effect goes far beyond restaurants, transportation and shopping and it reaches into the lives of citizens who live in our community day in and day out.”

It’s a common misconception among a community’s residents that they aren’t the direct beneficiary of meetings and convention spending. However, the ripple effect extends to nearly every facet in the city.

For example, local architects, contractors and construction experts are hired to build new facilities to hold meetings (such as the $325 million expansion to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center).

Local law firms are hired for zoning permits, human resource issues and real estate contracts, and local IT experts and companies are hired to install and maintain technology services in these facilities. Additional services such as plumbing, contracting, security and manufacturing also are impacted.

Further, direct hotel room expenditures contribute back to the community in tangible ways. In San Antonio, Hotel Occupancy Tax was used to fund the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, a premier cultural arts facility that features local performances by the San Antonio Symphony, Opera San Antonio and Ballet San Antonio. Additionally, the venue attracts well-known names including Sir Paul McCartney, Yo Yo Ma, Alton Brown and even presidential candidates.

However, one of the most important functions of meetings and conventions cannot be understated: fostering relationships and encouraging collaboration.

Experts readily agree there is no more meaningful way for people to work together than face-to-face in an environment that fosters productive and meaningful work, with direct contact being the best method to share ideas and obtain results.

In a recent Forbes interview, Mina Chang, CEO of EllevateNetwork.com stated, “Face-to-face interactions build trust, understanding and a real sense of a shared mission.”

If you and your organization would like to support Global Meetings Industry Day, simply visit its website at www.meetingsmeanbusiness.com/gmid. To learn more about GMID and events across the globe, visit www.meetingsmeanbusiness.com/gmid/events.

Don’t forget to take part in the global social conversation by tweeting @MeetingsMeanBiz and using the hashtags #MMBusiness and #GMID17.