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October 2017

Meetings & Events Forecast Shows Increased Confidence in 2018

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Fierce competition and a global mindset will lead the meetings and event industry into a prosperous new year, according to a new forecast from American Express Meetings & Events. The forecast shows the meetings & events industry can be optimistic about growth prospects next year, driven by increased competition in the supply chain for market share, as well as robust investments and a desire for consolidation of spend by buyers, says the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast.

Around the world, the continued localization of meetings program will be a key trend next year, as meeting professionals seek to add flexibility and nuance to offerings that address specific market needs and drive program adoption. The link between compliance and security in today's geopolitical landscape is another area of focus, with a special section on compliance challenges and risks associated with corporate meetings in China.

Technology is expected to continue its transformation of meetings and events in 2018, particularly on the end-to-end management of delivery and attendee experience. The potential of emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), and the ongoing development of mobile-app and hybrid-meeting solutions are creating innovation and value add opportunities for both meeting owners and attendees.

"Following the shifting sentiment in 2017, next year should be more positive around the world in terms of spend, number of meetings and attendees," said Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager, American Express Meetings & Events. "Meanwhile, meeting owners are prioritizing attendee experience and engagement over scale. As a result, we expect to see shorter, more focused meetings."

The meetings industry in North America is particularly optimistic about growth opportunities. Overall, the amount of money spent is expected to rise, with increasing regional airfares, hotel rates and despite global budget constraints. Reflecting global sentiment, the key focus for meeting planners and owners will be prioritizing the attendee experience. Cost per attendee is expected to increase across most meeting types, and survey respondents indicate that investments will be dedicated to improving content and production, and boosting attendance numbers. While activity levels between meeting types tend to be similar across the United States and Canada, respondents expect boosts in advisory and incentive meeting in Canada quailing 20 percent of total meetings, while in the United States, they remain at 10 percent.

The predicted percentage of meetings per year, with overall average cost per attendee, by meeting type in North America is:

  • Conferences & Tradeshows - 23 percent / $560
  • Training - 20 percent / $417
  • Sales & Marketing - 13 percent / $517
  • Internal Team Meeting - 12 percent / $320
  • Senior Leadership Board Meetings - 12 percent / $552
  • Incentives - 11 percent / $629
  • Advisory - 8 percent / $525
  • Product Launch - 6 percent / $488

Now in its seventh edition, the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast is based on a comprehensive survey of global meetings professionals and suppliers, extensive data, and in-depth interviews with planners, buyers, and meeting, air and ground suppliers.