American Express Predicts 'Stabilization' of Meetings Activity in 2014

Global Meeting Planning Trends
American Express Meetings & Events surveyed meeting professionals around the globe and, based on survey responses and in-depth interviews, identified the following meeting planning trends for 2014:

Increasing Engagement through Social Media and Mobile Apps: “In 2014 ... 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,” American Express Meetings & Events says. “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.”

Budget Controls Continue Local and Regional Meeting Trend: “As budget challenges likely increase, localized meeting demand was reported as a key trend,” according to American Express Meetings & Events. “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.”

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,” American Express Meetings & Events observes. “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,” American Express Meetings & Events says. “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 ... revealed they were considering more non-traditional properties as locations for meetings, such as outdoor venues, universities and aquariums,” American Express Meetings & Events notes. “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.”

A rise in policies designed to ensure meetings comply with company policies and strategic objectives means that meetings activity will likely “stabilize” next year, according to American Express Meetings & Events, which yesterday released its “2014 Global Meetings Forecast” in which it predicts flat or slight declines in meetings spend across the globe in 2014.

“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.”

In North America, American Express Meetings & Events expects a 1.5 percent increase in the number of meetings, a 0.6 percent increase in meeting attendance and flat meetings spend per organization.

In Europe, it predicts, the number of meetings will remain flat in 2014, while attendance and spend per organization will decline, each by 1.8 percent.

Declines will be largest in Asia Pacific, where American Express Meetings & Events predicts a 1.2 percent decline in the number of meetings, a 2.4 percent decline in meeting attendance and a 3.6 percent decline in overall meetings spend per organization.

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