According to the American Express Meetings & Events 2014 Global Meetings Forecast (the “Forecast"), following two years of modest budget and activity increases, flat or slight declines in meetings spend per organization are expected across all regions heading into 2014. Industry activity appears likely to be stabilizing due to a rise in meetings-related policies designed to ensure meetings comply with company guidelines and deliver against strategic objectives. Across all regions, meeting organizers will likely continue to face challenges as they strive to achieve more with flat or decreasing budgets expected, compared to previous years. In North America, nearly half of planners surveyed expect a slight increase (+1.5 percent overall for the region) in the number of meetings they expect in 2014. The number of attendees is also expected to increase slightly as companies try to maximize the overall value of each event and reduce the average cost per attendee. In Europe, the number of meetings overall for the region is expected to remain flat, while overall meetings spend within organizations and the number of attendees per meeting are each expected to slightly decrease by 1.8 percent. Exceptions to these trends at a country level are likely to include the United Kingdom and Germany, two bright spots in the region, which are expected to see increases in all three categories as a result of relatively stronger economies. Following two years of predicted increases, the Asia Pacific region appears to be slowing down and is expected to experience a slight decline (-1.2 percent) in the number of meetings in the region. Asia Pacific is also expected to experience the largest decline among all regions in overall meetings spend per organization (-3.6 percent), as the region likely shifts towards greater spend control. Asia Pacific meeting planners also forecast a 2.4 percent decline in the number of attendees per meeting.
In Central and South America, the number of meetings overall for the region is expected to remain flat, while overall meetings spend per organization is expected to slightly decrease by 1.4 percent. Central and South America are expected to see slight overall increases in the number of attendees for meetings in the region. In Argentina, likely tax increases on purchases made outside of the country along with Brazil’s major sporting events scheduled for next year are expected to be key drivers of the likely increased local meeting activity in the region.“Heading into 2014, meetings and events will likely continue to remain critical drivers for organizations to align on strategic business objectives and effectively communicate with employees, customers and partners worldwide,” said Issa Jouaneh, Vice President and General Manager, American Express Meetings & Events. “In an environment where budgets are expected to be challenging and the approval process for meetings will likely continue to be stringent, companies across all regions are reexamining their meetings strategies in order to achieve meeting objectives, increase efficiency and control costs.” “Meeting organizers are also looking to utilize social media tools to create higher quality and more engaging programs that better meet the needs of attendees. The future will be truly exciting for the industry as we redefine the meetings investment and experience management through the incorporation of digital meetings solutions,” continued Jouaneh. Below are high-level snapshots of the key predictions based on the survey of meetings professionals in each region.
|Survey Highlights: Regional Meetings Professional Predictions|
|Prediction||North America||Europe||Asia Pacific||Central/South America|
|Number of Meetings||+1.5||%||0.0||%||(-1.2||%)||0.0||%|
|Number of Attendees per meeting||+0.6||%||(-1.8||%)||(-2.4||%)||+0.6||%|
|Overall Meetings Spend within organization||0.0||%||(-1.8||%)||(-3.6||%)||(-1.4||%)|
|Regional Meeting Demand||+2.3||%||+2.4||%||+4.0||%||+0.6||%|
|Top 5 Meetings Destinations||1. Orlando, FL 2. Chicago, IL 3. Las Vegas, NV 4. Atlanta, GA 5. San Diego, CA (Source: Cvent, 2013)||1. London 2. Paris 3. Barcelona 4. Amsterdam 5. Brussels||1. Shanghai 2. Singapore 3. Sydney 4. Hong Kong & Macau 5. Bangkok & Chiang Mai||1. Brazil/Rio de Janeiro 2. Riviera Maya/ Cancun 3. Cusco/Macchu Pichu/Lima 4. Cartagena de Indias 5. San Jose, Costa Rica|
Global Meeting Planning TrendsLooking to 2014, meeting planners surveyed for the 2014 American Express Meetings & Events Forecast revealed a number of key trends and identified expectations across all regions:
- Increasing Engagement through Social Media and Mobile Apps – According to research from Google’s Our Mobile Planet, since 2012, smartphone penetration has increased by 10 percentage points in most major regions and the daily use of social networking sites via those smartphones is also on the rise. In 2014, according to the 2014 American Express Meetings & Events Global Forecast, the use of social media within meetings is expected to slightly increase across all regions, as the use of mobile apps and social media is expected to transition from attendees’ personal to professional lives. Meeting planners indicated an increased interest in using mobile apps and expressed a desire to learn how to best utilize apps for their individual meetings. With the technology to develop meeting specific apps becoming ‘mainstream’, companies are in the process of choosing the appropriate tools and providers for their meeting apps. Overall, meeting planners are facing increased pressures to use social media and mobile apps before, during and after meetings as a way to communicate with and connect attendees to one another in order to maximize time spent at meetings and create opportunities for increased engagement and efficiency.
- Budget Controls Continue Local and Regional Meeting Trend – As budget challenges likely increase, localized meeting demand was reported as a key trend by planners for 2014. Meeting planners revealed that companies are expecting to keep meetings closer to home by looking to hold more meetings within their region and/or their own facilities. Compliance, cost, and travel time are all noted as top drivers of this trend, as companies likely continue to seek alternative ways to control costs and reduce time away from the office.
- Meeting Approvals Becoming More Challenging – The approval process for meetings is expected to become increasingly complex and more rigorous across all regions as a result of expected delayed approvals and a likely shift toward more revenue-focused, external meetings. Senior level executives must often approve meeting programs above a certain budget or attendance number threshold, further delaying the approval process.
- Group Fares – Incorporating group fares into a strategic meetings program is another way meeting planners are looking to optimize costs in 2014. Group hotel and air rates for meetings and events are expected to experience slight increases compared to rates from 2013. As meeting organizers become more aware of the cost advantages and flexibilities associated with these fares, group rates will likely become more critical in the meeting planning process.
- Non-Traditional Properties – Meeting planners surveyed for the 2013 American Express Meetings & Events Forecast revealed they were considering more non-traditional properties as locations for meetings such as outdoor venues, universities and aquariums. The 2014 survey results predicted similar trends with Europe and Asia leading the charge with a 2.5 percent increase in the use of alternative properties. In North America, the use of non-traditional facilities is expected to increase as a result of a stronger desire for locations that are considered ‘hip and trendy’ for more promotional events.
About the American Express Meetings & Events ForecastThe Forecast identifies key meetings activities and trends for 2014 on a global and regional basis, to help meeting professionals and executives strategically direct and make effective use of their meeting investment. Numerous sources were used to develop the Forecast including proprietary American Express data sources, licensed third-party data and industry information, data from the American Express Global Business Travel Forecast 2014 and interviews with industry leaders. Information and data was gathered from actual and planned meetings activity of American Express Meetings & Events globally and Maxvantage clients in North America. Surveys of meeting professionals were conducted to gather trends across U.S., Canada, Europe (France, BeNeLux, Germany, Nordic, Spain and United Kingdom), Asia Pacific and Central/South America including Mexico. A survey of leading suppliers and follow-up interviews were also used to inform the finding in the Forecast. About American Express Meetings and Events American Express Meetings & Events (NYSE:AXP), a division of American Express Global Business Travel, offers longstanding experience, expertise and leading capabilities spanning program implementation to budget optimization to deliver powerful meetings and events experiences for clients. The global team is focused on meetings and events sourcing, planning, contract negotiations, budgeting, expense management, reporting and benchmarking, combined with strategic counsel and integration of leading technology. This end-to-end approach focuses on creating visibility, driving savings and enabling effective meeting experiences. With more than 40 years in the industry and a presence in over 50 countries, American Express Meetings & Events is uniquely positioned to manage meetings and events locally, regionally, internationally and across the globe. American Express Meetings & Events works with local leaders to enhance its offering to clients. To learn more about the services offered by American Express Meetings & Events, visit businesstravel.americanexpress.com/meetingsandevents.