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The Economic Impact of the Meetings Industry in Canada vs. the USA

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In 2008 the Canadian meetings industry generated more than 673,400 meetings involving 69,749,000 participants and resulting in just over $71 Billion in industry output, directly accounting for 222,900 full-time jobs (source: Meeting Professionals International Foundation Canada, 2008).

Recently a coalition of 14 U.S. tourism and meetings industry associations (including MPI, PCMA, ASAE, DMAI) released its own study of the economic impact of its meetings.  Working with 2009 data, research firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers USA (PwC) found the U.S. meeting industry had 1.8 million meetings, with 205 million attendees, producing $907 billion in output (direct, indirect and induced), and supporting 1.7 million jobs.

Comparing data between Canada & the US is dangerous because we are looking at difference years (Canada 2008 and U.S. 2009).  Still Canada's $71 Billion total industry output vs. $907 Billion in the U.S. means that the Canadian meetings industry represents 7.8% of the U.S.  This, while the Canadian population represents 11% of the USA.

I for one was a bit surprised at these results.  We're having fewer meetings in Canada when compared to the U.S.?  Or maybe we get to attend more meeting in the U.S. and not here!

So we’re starting to understand what we represent in economic terms, which is important possibly for lobbying purposes when it comes to taxes and infrastructure.  But what does it mean for individual hotels, CVBs, or planners themselves?  Well until we have historical trends, it may be a bit early to tell.

But where are we in terms of understanding what meetings represent in human terms?  Or as the program for National Meetings Industry Day organized by the Montréal-Québec MPI Chapter asked recently, what does the meetings industry represent to the socioeconomic landscape?

Proving the true value of face-to-face meetings is the next challenge for the meetings industry.  We need to better understand why and when a meeting should be face-to-face (F2F) vs. virtual or nothing at all.  We need scientific evidence.  Are we up to the challenge?