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European meetings and events focus on quality over quantity in 2017

According to the American Express Meetings & Events 2017 Global Meetings Forecast, European meetings and events activity will experience shifts in number, size and length over the next year as Europe faces its share of global political and economic uncertainty.

Meetings budgets across Europe are expected to remain flat in 2017, with some variation between countries: while respondents in Germany are most optimistic, expecting a 3.3% increase in meeting spend, in France a decrease in spend of -1.2% is expected.  

Now in its sixth year, the Forecast shows that, when it comes to meeting numbers in Europe, there’s a shift away from the upward trend of the last two years, with survey respondents expecting overall decreases in the number of meetings across most meeting types for 2017.  Differences emerge, however, for specific countries: for example, UK respondents expect a decrease in several meeting types, such as incentive and special events and senior leadership meetings, while respondents from Germany and France have more optimistic outlook, anticipating increases in internal meeting activity. Internal meetings and training meetings top the list of meetings type activity in nearly all countries.  

Jose Antonio Ruiz Collado, EMEA Vice President, American Express Meetings & Events, commented: “A sense of caution underpins meetings and events activity in Europe for 2017. However, even as budgets remain flat, European meetings professionals are demonstrating their creativity in delivering the greatest possible value from meetings activity. Second-tier cities and unique venues are growing in popularity, as are smaller meetings, held closer to home. This points to a trend for 2017 of European meetings professionals focusing on quality over quantity.”  

Group hotel rates see slight increases
As in previous years, respondents across the globe are expecting average group hotel rates to continue to rise, with survey respondents in Europe predicting increases at the smaller end of the scale.  Respondents from the UK anticipate the highest increase, at 2.7%, followed by Germany and Spain at 2.0%. London sees the greatest activity in Europe in terms of 2017 hotel openings, with 24 new hotels, followed by Hamburg with 16 and Moscow with 11.  

European destination trends
While there is growing interest in second-tier cities such as Dublin and Prague, large cities continue to dominate across Europe: respondents across European countries expect at least 79% of meetings to take place in large cities, although several countries are anticipating decreases in large city meetings.  

UK predictions for 2016 had suggested that 100% of meetings would be held in large cities. Respondents from the UK in this year’s survey predict this number will decrease to 81% in 2017. Germany is also expected to see a decrease from 91% of meetings being held in large cities in 2016, to 81% in 2017, while 19% of meetings will be held in second-tier cities. Belgium and the Netherlands will likely continue to have the highest number of second-tier city meetings at 21%.  

Top 10 European cities based on Meetings & Events activity
Based on the activity of American Express Meetings & Events customers, the list of top 10 European cities has seen some change and welcomes several newcomers. Although London retained its top position, Barcelona (previously ranked eighth) has taken over Paris’s spot in second place, as the French city falls to fourth position. Berlin has moved up from the tenth spot to fifth place while Munich, Copenhagen and Riga have been replaced by Rome, Madrid and Prague.  

1.     London 2.     Barcelona 3.     Amsterdam 4.     Paris 5.     Berlin 6.     Rome 7.     Frankfurt 8.     Madrid 9.     Brussels 10.  Prague

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