American Express Forecasts More Meetings

Meetings demand globally in 2012 appears to be on the rise, according to a recent survey and in-depth interviews of meeting experts, including planners, buyers and hotel suppliers based around the world conducted by American Express Meetings & Events.

Of the meeting planners surveyed, 42 percent of North American, 50 percent of Latin American, 51 percent of European and 57 percent of Asian respondents see signs of increased activity from their clients. Additionally, 60 percent of meeting suppliers also expect the number of meetings planned to increase, American Express reports.

Higher travel and meeting costs are anticipated, driving the need for companies to focus on striking the right balance of cost effectiveness and experience impact when selecting venues, according to the inaugural American Express Meetings & Events 2012 Meetings Forecast.

“In many cases, meetings and event spend is an indicator of outward facing organizations connecting with their clients and prospects, and well run meetings and events can be leading drivers of new business and growth for organizations,” said Issa Jouaneh, vice president and general manager, American Express Meetings & Events.

“Even in the face of economic uncertainty, meeting industry stakeholders appear to be cautiously optimistic as they report an increase in services and property demand from clients. We hope that the trends and forecast report we created helps meeting professionals and executives navigate this landscape to strategically direct and make effective use of their meeting investment,” Jouaneh said.

Insight from both meeting planners and hoteliers worldwide sheds light on general characteristics of meetings next year that companies and organizations can use to get the maximum return on investment of each gathering, American Express says.

Notably, companies are continuing to support meetings and are projected to increase overall meeting budgets, while the spending for individual meetings are expected to decrease or stay flat compared to 2011. According to the survey, one third (33 percent) of hoteliers surveyed expect decreasing budgets per individual meeting, while only 7 percent expect increases.
Global meeting trends in 2012:
    •    Shorter and Smaller: The number of attendees per meeting will likely decrease as will the number of days, according to 40 percent and 33 percent of hotel suppliers respectively. Driving this trend is a demand to do more with less as companies look to hold a higher number of meetings.
    •    Closer to Home: Suppliers indicated planners want meetings closer to their businesses, with 53 percent of their clients requesting more local meetings. This is also likely tied to the effort to keep individual meeting costs down.
    •    Fuller Agendas: Noting that their clients’ ‘focus on meeting content is more critical than ever,’ hotel suppliers expect to see more incentive programs infused with business focused content, with 47 percent of customers planning to combine meetings and incentives.
    •    More Green: Hotel suppliers noted 47 percent of meeting clients have green request/requirements for their events. Meeting planners corroborated this trend with 73 percent indicating clients are showing increasing interest in reporting green measures. However, it’s not yet impacting property decisions.
    •    Venue Selection: The Meetings Forecast reveals a shift away from bookings in luxury or resort properties with the exception of meetings within Asia Pacific and Latin America. According to suppliers 40 percent are seeing an uptick in demand for these properties.
“As companies continue to operate in a cost-conscious environment, despite a growing need for meetings, it is important for meeting professionals to look for ways to optimize spend and ensure effectiveness,” continued Jouaneh.  “However, optimizing spend means not just knowing where money is being spent, but knowing when to spend. Evaluating each meeting and its goals is essential to delivering the strongest, most engaging meeting with the highest possible return on investment and experience, whether that is through an internal virtual meeting, or a face-to-face client event.”

The North America meetings market was fairly robust in 2011 and is expected to grow in 2012 according to the planner survey results from Maxvantage, the strategic alliance between American Express Meetings & Events and Maritz Travel in the region.
This market continues to lead others in looking for new ways to optimize meetings spend and up the return on experience. With the number of meetings expected to increase, the survey indicates companies are conscious of avoiding any negative opinions of perceived excessive spending, the company says.

2012 North America Trends
·         Number of meetings expected: 80 percent expect to increase or maintain the number of meetings
·         Number of attendees per meeting: 25 percent6 will decrease the number of attendees while 45 percent expect about the same
·         Meeting locations: 71 percent booking in primary/large cities; 31 percent in secondary cities; 13 percent shifting bookings from primary cities to second-tier cities
·         Planner lead time: 62 percent expect decreases in their lead time for planning meetings and 7 percent expect an increase.  


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