Meetings are expected to play a critical role in a return to business fundamentals in 2015, according to the American Express Meetings & Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast. The trend should help drive the long-term health of the industry.
AMEX says following a period of economic recovery for the meetings industry as well as new budget pressures in 2014, 2015 meeting budgets are likely to show positive movement, either through growth or less of a decline than was seen previously.
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This is due to powerful drivers, such as compliance, global expansion, and standardized processes that can help to reduce risk and elevate the visibility and strategic importance of meetings programs within companies, the study reports.
The 2015 Forecast breaks down predictions by meeting type to provide more insight into the purpose of meetings and where business priorities lie.
“The meeting industry overall appears to be very much ‘back in business’, in particular as a key component of sales and marketing strategies for many organizations,” said Issa Jouaneh, vice president and general manager, American Express Meetings & Events.
In North America, the positive sentiment for 2014 continued with a slight 0.3 percent increase in meetings activity expected in 2015. At the same time, many meetings have been reduced in size over the past few years, increasing the demand for meetings at airport properties, as meeting owners try to maximize the productive time available for attendees, AMEX says.
Overall, there is a continued push to stay close to home and host meetings where the largest number of attendees live. Attendee levels in North America seem to have stabilized, with no major changes expected next year, AMEX says.
Training meetings lead the pack in North America in terms of growth in number of meetings, and in regard to meeting length, the findings revealed that incentive and special events were reported to be the longest meeting by category, followed by conferences.
In North America, Orlando, Florida, slipped to second place this year, with Chicago, Illinois, ranking as the number one meeting destination choice among meeting planners. Las Vegas, Nevada; Atlanta, Georgia; and San Diego, California, rank in the top five meeting destinations in North America for the second consecutive year. In Central and South America, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Riviera Maya / Cancun region in Mexico retained the top two spots for meetings and events. In Europe, all top four cities, including London, UK; Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, have retained their spots from last year’s forecast. In Asia Pacific, Singapore took the top spot from Shanghai, China, which ranked number one in 2014.
AMEX says key areas for 2015 include:
- Empowering Digital Event Solutions – Meeting professionals now have the opportunity to rethink meeting design and content delivery to capitalize on digital solutions and engage the audience in new and exciting ways. Four solutions – attendee management, event mobile applications, social media solutions and hybrid meeting solutions – can increase the prevalence and importance in digital event solutions.
- Planning Meetings & Events in Emerging Countries – The meeting business in emerging countries has grown significantly in recent years, as these economies have increased in importance. There are five aspects to meeting planning that are imperative for planners to focus on in order to ensure their meeting goes smoothly in an emerging country: security, technology, transportation, food & beverage, and payments.
- The Benefits of Attendee Travel Management – Best practices and customer feedback have demonstrated that integrating travel planning with meetings management can provide substantial benefits related to experience, cost, and duty of care. Integrating air travel as part of the overall planning process can benefit meeting planners and attendees alike. Air travel is an integral part of the logistical, financial, and experiential aspect of an event. In particular, group air planning can benefit a meeting at all stages, from destination evaluation, budgetary savings, and agenda optimization to improved communications, increased productivity, and risk reduction.
- Event Production Trends and Insights – As technology and the role of mobile apps, virtual/ hybrid meeting tools and more play an increasing role in meetings and events, event production agencies can serve as a guide to integration into the overarching event experience. Meeting owners should consider if the use of technology is appropriate for the event experience and if it can serve a real purpose and not act as a distraction.