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DMAI CalculatorDestination Marketing Association International (DMAI) has launched its new Event Impact Calculator with an overwhelming adoption from the industry and a significant new data partner that reinforces its accuracy. At launch, 67 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) had subscribed, outpacing projections for the year.

The event calculator debuted at DMAI’s 97th Annual Convention, which attracted more than 1,100 attendees. The rising attendance (second only to DMAI’s Annual Convention in Las Vegas in 2008) and energy levels generated during the convention reflected the optimism of an industry that’s been particularly challenged in this economic climate.

“We have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this Calculator,” said Barbara Kirklighter, senior director, Research & Revenue Strategy for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. “With the aid of this terrific tool, we are now able to report key metrics to our stakeholders such as visitor spend on lodging, transportation, retail, recreation and food & beverage as well as the number of jobs specifically generated from the meetings and convention business we help bring to our city.”

Developed by Tourism Economics (an Oxford Economics company) specifically for DMAI, the Calculator provides DMOs with a dynamic and credible industry standard to quantify an event’s full economic value in terms of direct expenditures, taxes, employment, wages and total return on investment.

“Return on investment metrics are crucial to understanding and communicating the value of particular events and continuing to form a broad case for destination marketing,” said Michael D. Gehrisch, president and CEO of DMAI. “Armed with this information, DMOs and their communities can better articulate and understand the substantial impacts events have on the economic development of their destinations.”

As the Calculator makes its live debut, DMAI announced the addition of convention center data from SMG as a new ninth data source.

“By including actual contract data in the model, the calculations of event impacts are incredibly robust,” said Adam Sacks, founder and managing director of Tourism Economics Inc. “The combination of SMG’s primary data with multiple survey, industry and government data sources provides a sustainable and credible foundation for impact analysis at the local level.”

In addition to the SMG data, the Event Impact Calculator incorporates the eight complementary data sources:

  • Oxford Economics’ 2010 survey of meeting planners;
  • Longwoods International’s ongoing survey of U.S. household travel behavior in 100 cities;
  • Convention Industry Council’s study on the Economic Significance of the Meetings Industry;
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics city-specific data on costs by sector (i.e. restaurant, retail, lodging, etc.);
  • City-specific sales, wage and employment multipliers;
  • City-specific tax rates;
  • DMAI’s empowerMINT historical meetings database;
  • Input from the end user

“By providing real-world financial data from a cross section of our convention centers, we hope to provide valuable context in DMAI’s quest to provide realistic and complete information used to calculate the value of all event types,” said Gregg Caren, senior vice president strategic business development of SMG.

For the DMAI convention, the calculator computed a nearly $1.4 million direct spending to the New Orleans economy this summer.

“DMAI’s Annual Convention demonstrates the real value of face-to-face meetings in terms of generating economic impact and jobs at the local level as well as inspiring more creative and productive professionals through education and networking,” said Michael D. Gehrisch, president and CEO of DMAI.

The Calculator is a critical tool in quantifying the economic value of meetings at the destination level. For example, the Calculator not only provides direct spending generated ($1.4 million); it also shows that the Convention supported more than 1,000 jobs, nearly $800,000 in local wages and generated $132,000 in local tax receipts.

In addition to the substantial economic impact created for New Orleans, attendees of the convention confirmed that meeting face-to-face provided critical time to network and do business with industry partners and suppliers. In post conference evaluations, more than 90 percent of attendees plan on attending next year and would recommend the DMAI Annual Convention to their industry colleagues.

“The energy at the DMAI Annual Convention this year — from 80-plus speakers, nearly 100 exhibiting companies, and representatives from 274 destinations — was incredible,” said Kevin Kane, DMAI Board chair and president/CEO of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We talked about passion, which was perfect, as our industry defines what passion is all about. And importantly, inspired attendees were reminded that the foremost goal of DMAI programs and tools is to make us – DMOs – more effective, doing our jobs to the maximum degree, and positioning our communities and the greater destination marketing industry for future success.”

Passion, impact and innovation were key themes weaved throughout sessions, providing education specifically to develop stronger destination marketing professionals. At the 2011 Convention, DMAI offered twice as many education sessions as the previous year, generating buzz from the attendees.

“The sessions were the best I’ve attended in years,” said Stephanie Molina, director of marketing at the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I took home more than notes and ideas this year. I came back with a little extra jazz in my step.”

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