Localization, compliance, and tech-driven customer experiences driving trends next year
Toronto—The meetings and events industry can be optimistic about growth prospects next year, driven by increased competition in the supply chain for market share, robust investments and a desire for consolidation of spend by buyers, according to 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast from American Express Meetings & Events.
Across the globe, the continued localization of meetings programs 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.
The meetings industry in North America is particularly optimistic about growth opportunities. The amount of money spent is expected to rise, with increasing regional air fares, hotel rates and despite global budget constraints. Reflecting global sentiment, the key focus for meetings 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 US and Canada, respondents expect boosts in advisory and incentive meetings in Canada equaling 20 percent of total meetings, while in the US they remain at 10 percent.
Geopolitical uncertainty has led to country-specific variations in industry confidence. The UK, Belgium and the Netherlands express the most optimism across several indicators. Respondents in the UK and Poland anticipate an increase in money spent on meetings, while those in other European countries predict decreasing or flat activity in 2018. With the exception of the UK, European countries expect to spend less on attendees than the previous year. Cuts in meeting length and optional activities to compensate for rate increases will be sought across all regions. Europe stands out as countries consistently predict shorter meetings.
Australia anticipates robust growth; the forecast predicts an increase in both the amount of money spent on meetings and the number of attendees. Elsewhere, other countries have expressed reservations. The combined rise of hotel rates and falling meetings activities have led to budget constraints and the predicted increase in cost per attendee. Respondents indicated basic meetings management and support would be prioritized to control meetings investment and showcase value.
Central & South America
In Central & South America, industry growth is expected to be modest across most categories. Local governments and companies have been instrumental in promoting the region as a meetings destination and regional meetings professionals predict increases in meeting duration and attendance. Mexico and Colombia are becoming increasingly popular, but both face challenges with rising hotel rates and limited supply for large groups.