Meetings and their economic impact on Canada

Many of you who know me know that I’ve been talking about meetings/conferences/events as being about business decisions, not hospitality in its truest form for at least five years.
Meetings and their economic impact on CanadaThe definition of “hospitality”, according to Wikipedia, (

Current usage: In the West today hospitality is rarely a matter of protection and survival, and is more associated with etiquette and entertainment. However, it still involves showing respect for one’s guests, providing for their needs, and treating them as equals. Cultures and subcultures vary in the extent to which one is expected to show hospitality to strangers, as opposed to personal friends or members of one’s in-group.

The hospitality service industry includes hotels, casinos, and resorts, which offer comfort and guidance to strangers, whether it be commercial (for monetary gain) or non-commercial (not for profit). The terms hospital, hospice, and hostel also derive from “hospitality,” and these institutions preserve more of the connotation of personal care.

Arguably, conferences/meetings/special events could be included in this definition and I again argue that planners use the services as outlined above of the hospitality industry. The objective of the conference/event/meeting is to manage a business objective.

In 2008, Meeting Professionals International, MPI Foundation Canada, presented an in-depth report titled Meetings Activity in 2006: A Portrait of the Canadian Sector, which was researched and managed by Maritz Research and The Conference Board of Canada.

Summary of facts:

  • 2006 total meetings: 671,000
  • 2006 total participants: 70.2 million
  • 2006 full-year jobs (equivalent) 235,500
  • 2006 direct spending: $32.2 billion
  • The report was updated in 2009, representing 2008.

To review the 2006 report and the 2008 update, click on these two links.

Now you see the economic value of conferences/events/meetings. MPI Canada Foundation is currently preparing to do an update that will delve even further into the economic impact-regionally.

According to Ron Guitar, CMP, MPI Foundation Canada, The Canadian Economic Impact Study 3.0 will be a continuation of the original ground breaking report released in 2008 and updated in 2009. The new study will include:

  • Measurement of meeting organizers and meeting venues revenues and expenditures
  • Collection of survey data detailing meetings related expenditures by participants
  • Calculation of meetings sector direct and indirect impact on the Canadian economy, including GDP contribution
  • Employment supported by the economic activity generated by meetings in Canada

(Source: MEETING Magazine, September/October 2012,, page 19, written by Ron Guitar)

And so, I ask, are meetings/conferences/events about hospitality or business? My prediction: within the next 10 years, this question will no longer have to be asked.

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