A decade after the 2008 global economic recession, the meetings industry has bounced back and is experiencing stable growth. This is according to the 2019 Global Meetings and Events Forecast by American Express Meetings & Events (M&E),
Global meetings activity is expected to grow in 2019 along with small increases in budget allocation for meetings and events. Consolidation across the industry and the rise of disruptive suppliers creates an environment where meeting planners feel more pressure but also have more choice.
This dynamic allows the industry to collectively tackle long-term challenges, such as live inventory for small and simple meetings, and increased opportunities for attendee engagement.
Surveyed planners agreed that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is impacting the industry far beyond Europe where the regulation was developed.
As emerging technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition transform meetings and events and create more data, compliance and privacy concerns will only grow in importance. These technologies offer attendees what they’re becoming accustomed to in their daily lives, making meetings more immersive and engaging.
Key findings for each region include:
Germany and Spain, which lead the way in Europe, will see increases in number of meetings and number of attendees for product launches and customer advisory board meetings.
Similar to North America, modest growth in budgets (0.7%) is not expected to keep up with rising hotel rates (1.6%).
The region will see small, but material, increases in number of meetings, attendees, meeting length, and cost per attendee – a hallmark of the industry’s new normal.
Meeting budgets are expected to increase by 0.8% despite increasing hotel rates (2.4%) and lower commissions, which two thirds of planners cite as the main consequence of hotel consolidation.
Doing more with less is the persistent goal of the meeting planner in this region, with 33% of those surveyed reporting they would elevate content first if corporate meetings budgets increased.
Growth is predicted, and while costs are balanced for now, they are rising faster than corporate meetings budgets, creating pressure for ROI.
One quarter of planners across the region are choosing second-tier destinations to defray costs, up from only 3% the previous year.
Companies in Japan spend most on incentives, in China the priority is senior leadership meetings, while in Australia, product launches receive the most attention.
Central & South America
Although face-to-face interactions maintain cultural significance, virtual meetings are a valuable option for budget-conscious companies, with 76% of planners anticipating the use of virtual meeting technology.
Rio de Janeiro, Cancun/Riviera Maya, and Mexico City continue to climb as top meeting spots internationally.
Conferences and tradeshows are showing interest in Brazil especially and are likely to take advantage of facilities built for recent global sporting events to attract attendees to new destinations.
"2019 will be a growth year for the meetings industry, with activity expected to increase across all meeting types and regions," said Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager at American Express Meetings & Events.
"The challenge before planners is mastering this volume, while working with the reality of expenses increasing at a higher rate than meetings budgets. Strategic meetings built around defined goals that prioritise the attendee experience and embrace technology will continue to elevate meetings as a business tool despite these challenges," he added.
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