Incentive Travel Programs Drive the Most Direct Spend per Delegate

Chicago, Illinois – February 11, 2014 – Site joins 13 fellow members of the Convention Industry Council to release data on the Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy. An update to a 2009 study, new figures show significant increases in meeting participants, direct spending, tax contribution and job growth from 2009 to 2012.

Under the category of Incentive Meetings, over 67,000 motivational events and incentive travel programs were held in 2012 with over 9 million delegates. Compared to the 2009 study, the number of incentive programs remained constant while the number of delegates increased by almost 10%. Although incentive travel programs comprise the lowest percentage of all meeting types, the direct spend per delegate of $1,570 is the highest.

“Incentive travel is not only a contributor to the industry but to the overall economy,” stated Kevin Hinton, Chief Staff Officer Site and the Site International Foundation. “Companies that use incentive travel to drive performance confirm that it pays for itself many times over and has a positive impact on future economic investments and job growth. As recently reported in the Site Annual Forecast incentive travel is expected to continue to grow at a significant pace through 2016.”

During the 2012 calendar year, 1.83 million meetings were held in the US, attended by 225 million participants, providing more than $115 billion to fuel the economy. Meetings contribution to GDP surpasses that of the air transportation, motion picture, sound recording, performing arts and spectator sport industries.

“The data proves organizations continue to value and place a priority on face-to-face meetings, even during a recovering economy,” said Karen Kotowski, CMP, CAE, chief executive of the Convention Industry Council. “Total economic output of meetings was valued at $770.4 billion dollars in 2012, a staggering figure. Not only does that mean more meetings held--they were attended by more people.”

“More meetings bring more jobs,” continued Kotowski. “Meetings increased employment at a time when many industries didn’t have the same opportunity. In 2012, meetings employed nearly 1.8 million people. That translates to 8.3% more jobs created by meetings in 2012 than in 2009, nearly double the average employment growth rate during that time.”

Meetings also generated $88 billion in federal, state and local taxes to fund and support communities across the country. The majority of meeting participants in 2012 traveled 50 miles or more to attend a meeting—consuming hotel rooms, restaurant meals and transportation services, positively impacting cities and businesses across the country.

“As a coalition member of Meetings Mean Business, Site is proud to join with other industry organizations as one voice to ensure policymakers, consumers and business leaders truly understand the industry’s worth and impact," continued Hinton. “Our goal is to leverage this research as part of a broader campaign to tell the story of the value of incentive travel and motivational events as proven business tools that change behavior and provide a verifiable return on investment.”

An executive summary of the research is available at

About the Study
The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy conducted by PwC US was spearheaded by an alliance of organizations representing the collective meetings, travel, exhibitions and events industries in the U.S. brought together via the Convention Industry Council (  Primary funding organizations include American Hotel & Lodging Association, ASAE, Convention Industry Council, Destination Marketing Association International/Destination & Travel Foundation, Meeting Professionals International Foundation, Professional Convention Management Association/Education Foundation and U.S. Travel Association.  Other allied industry partners include Center for Exhibition Industry Research, Convention Sales Professionals International, Event Service Professionals Association, Financial and Insurance Conference Planners, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, International Special Events Society and National Speakers Association.

About CIC
The Convention Industry Council's 33 member organizations represent over 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry. The mission of the Convention Industry Council is to provide a forum for member organizations to exchange information on global trends and topics, promulgate excellence in best practices and guidelines, collaborate on industry issues and advocate the value of the meetings, conventions, exhibitions and events industry.

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