American Express Meetings & Events forecasts meetings spend per organization across all regions will be flat or decline slightly in 2014.
Its recently-released 2014 Global Meetings Forecast reveals that industry activity is stabilizing after two years of modest gains. Factors contributing to the stabilization include a rise in meetings-related policies designed to ensure meetings comply with company guidelines and deliver against strategic objectives. As a result, the report says, that “meeting organizers will likely continue to face challenges as they strive to achieve more with flat or decreasing budgets expected, compared to previous years.”
The Forecast’s findings are based on a comprehensive survey, extensive meetings and events data, and interviews of meetings professionals (planners, buyers, hotel suppliers and more from around the world). The Forecast’s highlights include:
- Number of Meetings: North America, +1.5%; Europe, 0.0%; Asia Pacific, (-1.2%) and Central/South America, 0.0%
- Number of attendees per meeting: North America, +0.6%; Europe, (-1.8%); Asia Pacific, (-2.4%); Central/South America, +0.6%
- Overall meetings spend within organization: North America, 0.0%; Europe, (-1.8%); Asia Pacific, (-3.6%); Central/South America, (-1.4%)
- Regional meeting demand: North America, +2.3%; Europe, +2.4%; Asia Pacific, +4.0%; Central/South America, +0.6%
- Lead times: North America, (-1.6%); Europe, (-2.7%); Asia Pacific, (-4.0%); Central/South America, (-1.0%)
- Top 5 meeting destinations: North America – Orlando, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta and San Diego; Europe – London, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Brussels; Asia Pacific – Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Hong Kong & Macau , and Bangkok & Chiang Mai; Central/South America – Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Riviera Maya/Cancun, Cusco/Macchu Pichu/Lima, Cartagena de Indias, and San Jose (Costa Rica)
Key trends and expectations identified by meeting planners across all regions are:
- Increasing engagement through social media and mobile apps
- Budget controls continue local and regional meeting trend
- Meeting approvals become more challenging
- Group fares sought to optimize costs
- More consideration of non-traditional properties (outdoor venues, universities and aquariums) for meetings and events
“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 re-examining 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,” added Jouaneh.