Defining Conventions as Urban Innovation and Economic Accelerators

Defining Conventions as Urban Innovation and Economic Accelerators

Although the services provided by the meetings industry often go unnoticed, they are a catalyst for economic growth. They have the power to influence how a city is shaped, including who lives there, who works there and who visits year-to-year. What’s more, conferences can determine what other industries flock to the region and ultimately whether long-term investment opportunities will succeed or fail.


Although the services provided by the meetings industry often go unnoticed, they are a catalyst for economic growth. They have the power to influence how a city is shaped, including who lives there, who works there and who visits year-to-year. What’s more, conferences can determine what other industries flock to the region and ultimately whether long-term investment opportunities will succeed or fail.

At its core, the industry is evolving into a global innovation distribution channel. It is therefore no surprise that destination marketing organizations(DMOs) are increasingly using meetings to impact the communities around them, though the strategies they have relied on to do so are nothing short of remarkable.

Meetings Mean Business partnered with Skift to look at how meetings are driving economic development and generating legacy impacts. The report details how DMOs are collaborating more strategically with local governments, economic development agencies and academic institutions to increase convention business in high-priority growth sectors as a way to position their cities as innovation accelerators. It shows how meetings are economic drivers that can be leveraged to attract outside corporate investment and talent more effectively.

From Las Vegas to Cleveland, to Washington, D.C., it is clear that the contributions the meetings industry makes cannot be defined solely by what happens in a hotel ballroom or convention center.

Here are eight key takeaways to leverage conventions to drive economic development:

  • The meetings industry is a global innovation distribution channel
  • Meetings should be positioned as global innovation distribution channels that support the networking and knowledge exchange required in today’s digital economy.
  • Convention bureaus are importers/exporters of knowledge and brokers  of innovation
  • There is an enormous opportunity for DMOs to rebrand and reposition their value proposition as brokers of innovation and engines of economic development beyond the visitor economy.
  • Convention organizers should leverage a city’s innovation economy  for program content
  • A growing number of attendees want to engage with local people and tap into their creative process and business intelligence. Therefore, government, DMOs, economic development agencies and universities should collaborate more diligently to develop more integrated, consumer-facing resources and platforms to spread that message and connect meeting organizers with their city’s intellectual capital.
  • Make economic development more tangible and understandable
  • Economic development organizations are collaborating much more intentionally with DMOs to engage visiting industry experts before, during and after conventions.
  • Embrace the concept: “Convergence is the new innovation”
  • Next-generation convention organizers can facilitate networking across sector ecosystems where the common language is creative solution building.
  • Understand the contexts of the city’s long-term strategic vision
  • Only when all public officials and private stakeholders have a collective understanding of their region’s future vision can they drive progress effectively by collaborating with visiting convention leaders to their full potential.
  • Define the future of cities as a connected platform for value  exchange
  • At its core, a city is an interoperable platform for value sharing and convergence building that allows anyone anywhere to connect with the people and organizations populating its innovation economy. Conventions should leverage this to crowdsource intelligence in local communities, extend the window of engagement and expand audience reach.
  • Engage academia to define the full economic impacts of conventions
  • There needs to be an increase in research at the local level evaluating the long-term economic impacts of conventions.

To learn more, download the full free report here

Meetings  Mean Business is an industry-wide coalition to showcase the undeniable value  that business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences  and conventions bring to people, businesses and communities. By rallying  industry advocates, working with stakeholders, conducting original research,  engaging with outside voices and more, the coalition brings the industry  together to emphasize its importance. Comprised of over 60 members, the  coalition unites the meetings industry with one strong and powerful voice. To  get involved, visit our website (http://meetingsmeanbusiness.com) and follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/meetingsmeanbiz).  

“Meetings Mean Business are a networking partner at City Nation Place Americas and look forward to meeting delegates there to discuss these issues further. SEE AGENDA

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