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American Express Meetings & Events Forecast predicts stabilization of meetings and events activity in 2014

According to the American Express Meetings & Events 2014 Global Meetings Forecast (the “Forecast"), following two years of modest budget and activity increases, flat or slight declines in meetings spend per organization are expected across all regions heading into 2014.

Industry activity appears likely to be stabilizing due to a rise in meetings-related policies designed to ensure meetings comply with company guidelines and deliver against strategic objectives. Across all regions, meeting organizers will likely continue to face challenges as they strive to achieve more with flat or decreasing budgets expected, compared to previous years.

In Europe, the number of meetings overall for the region is expected to remain flat, while overall meeting spend within organizations and the number of attendees per meeting are each expected to slightly decrease by 1.8 percent. Exceptions to these trends at a country level are likely to include the United Kingdom and Germany, two bright spots in the region, which are expected to see increases in all three categories as a result of relatively stronger economies.

Michael Schüller, Vice President, American Express Meetings & Events, Europe, said: “While challenges remain, there are signs of economic recovery in specific European markets – such as the UK and Germany – where we see optimism in all meeting categories.  In fact, with the exception of France, compared to the predictions for 2013, the 2014 survey results are all more optimistic in each European country.

“While face-to-face global meetings remain a strong business tool, demand for local meetings in the region is expected to increase as companies look to make the most of restricted budgets and reduce time away from the office.”

In North America, nearly half of planners surveyed expect a slight increase (+1.5 percent overall for the region) in the number of meetings they expect in 2014. The number of attendees is also expected to increase slightly as companies try to maximize the overall value of each event and reduce the average cost per attendee.

Following two years of predicted increases, the Asia Pacific region appears to be slowing down and is expected to experience a slight decline (-1.2 percent) in the number of meetings in the region. Asia Pacific is also expected to experience the largest decline among all regions in overall meetings spend per organization (-3.6 percent), as the region likely shifts towards greater spend control. Asia Pacific meeting planners also forecast a 2.4 percent decline in the number of attendees per meeting.

In Central and South America, the number of meetings overall for the region is expected to remain flat, while overall meetings spend per organization is expected to slightly decrease by 1.4 percent. Central and South America are expected to see slight overall increases in the number of attendees for meetings in the region. In Argentina, likely tax increases on purchases made outside of the country along with Brazil’s major sporting events scheduled for next year are expected to be key drivers of the likely increased local meeting activity in the region.

“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.”

“Meeting organizers are also looking to utilize social media tools to create higher quality and more engaging programs that better meet the needs of attendees. The future will be truly exciting for the industry as we redefine the meetings investment and experience management through the incorporation of digital meetings solutions,” continued Jouaneh.

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