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Global Meetings and Events Forecast Highlights Industry Trends for 2018

According to the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast published by American Express Meetings and Events, event programs and meetings around the world will continue to draw in and localize more throughout the coming year as event planners work to meet specific attendee needs in a changing landscape.

Among the industry changes expected to impact meetings in 2018 will be advancement in technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, mobile apps, and hybrid meetings, the report suggests, as well as an ongoing trend to plan smaller, more specialized events. But researchers are optimistic that within those parameters, the market will continue to grow.  “Following the shifting sentiment in 2017, next year should be more positive around the world in terms of spend, number of meetings, and attendees. Meanwhile, meeting owners are prioritizing attendee experience and engagement over scale. As a result, we expect to see shorter, more focused meetings,” says Issa Jouaneh, (pictured right) senior vice president and general manager, American Express Meetings & Events.

Safety, security, and compliance are key concerns for meeting planners around the globe, Jouaneh notes, and they are expected to continue to be so for the foreseeable future. “The regulatory environment on a global basis continues to drive attention to risk and how to best mitigate risk across meetings activity,” he says. “This compliance focus is also tied to safety and security concerns. Terrorism, weather events, and political unrest highlight the need for employees and meeting attendees to follow processes for booking and documenting travel. It also means meeting owners and planners need easy, comprehensive access to traveler information, so they can help identify and mitigate risk when emergencies arise.”

The report says that the meetings industry in North America is particularly optimistic about growth. Planners expect the cost per attendee to increase along with hotel rates and airfares, all of which will increase revenue in the industry. Attendance numbers and the quality of content are of particular concern for respondents, who say they will likely devote the increased revenue to improving both.  

Worldwide, the degree of optimism varies considerably, with planners in Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Netherlands anticipating a better 2018 than planners in other parts of Europe and the Asia-Pacific. Latin America is expected to see modest gains in its meetings and event industry in the coming year, though some countries are expected to fare better than others. Some planners are concerned about the impact geopolitical issues may have on the industry, others are worried about the rapid rise in hotel rates. But planners across the board say that the pressure of rising costs as a whole will likely prompt shorter meetings in the future.

The forecast, which is the seventh edition of the report, is based on a survey of global meetings professionals and suppliers, industry data, and interviews with people representing all segments of the meetings and event industry. The report takes into account budgets, spending trends, the number of meetings, lead times and other metrics by geographic region. Using that information, analysts provide an assessment of likely trends for 2018. “Economic and geopolitical influences will continue to create uncertainty,” Jouaneh says, “but we anticipate ongoing industry resilience and continued focus on successful experiences.”

The full report is available at www.amexglobalbusinesstravel.com.

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