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Meeting planners strive to design meaningful, engaging events. Although they focus on every detail, particularly cost, sometimes they feel pressure to justify expenses.

Previously, we talked with Aaron Wolowiec of Event Garde LLC, who discussed this topic in a continuing education class he led for Experience Grand Rapids. Wolowiec emphasized the importance of demonstrating value rather than justifying expenses, which he says come from very different mindsets.

"One way to demonstrate value is to consider the positive impact your event has on the host city," says Joy Lin, Manager of Client Services, empowerMINT.com and Event Impact Calculator, for Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). In a recent DMAI newsletter article, Understanding the Full Value of Your Event, Lin urged meeting planners to consider how their events support growth in host cities, through event-related jobs, taxes and sales.

To measure this impact, the DMAI worked with Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, to create the Event Impact Calculator, which pulls data from eight different sources including surveys and government statistics. Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) can use the Event Impact Calculator to measure the economic value of a meeting, conference or trade show and calculate its return on investment to the destination community, says Lin.

Lin's article stressed on three key features of the Event Impact Calculator:

  1. It's flexible. Users can run different scenarios based on several factors, including the type of event, contract specifications, and industry focus.
  2. It's localized. The Calculator includes city-specific data from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, so it takes into consideration differences like the cost of a restaurant meal, and hotel and tax rates for different locations.
  3. It's comprehensive. DMOs can use the Calculator to examine both the direct and indirect impact their event has on the host city. The Calculator provides a range of measurements including business sales, personal income increases, and taxes generated as a result of your event.

The Event Impact Calculator is updated annually to ensure that it provides DMOs with the most accurate up-to-date information. In the future, DMAI is hoping to add the capability for festivals and sporting events to use the Calculator. For more information or to see a demo of the Event Impact Calculator, you can contact Joy Lin at jlin@destinationmarketing.org.