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% of North American, 50% of Latin American, 51% of European and 57% of Asian respondents see signs of increased activity from their clients. Additionally, 60% of meeting suppliers also expect the number of meetings planned to increase. 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 released today at EIBTM, the global meetings and events exhibition held in Barcelona, Spain.
"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."
Global Meetings Profile: 2012
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. 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%) of hoteliers surveyed expect decreasing budgets per individual meeting, while only 7% 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% and 33% 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% 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% of customers planning to combine meetings and incentives.
- More Green: Hotel suppliers noted 47% of meeting clients have green request/requirements for their events. Meeting planners corroborated this trend with 73% 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% 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."
Meetings Trends by Region Next Year
North America (NA)
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.
2012 North America -- Maxvantage Planner Snapshot
- Number of meetings expected: 80% expect to increase or maintain the number of meetings
- Number of attendees per meeting: 25% will decrease the number of attendees while 45% expect about the same
- Meeting locations: 71% booking in primary/large cities; 31% in secondary cities; 13% shifting bookings from primary cities to second-tier cities
- Planner lead time: 62% expect decreases in their lead time for planning meetings and 7% expect an increase
The meetings market in Europe may experience challenges in growth next year due to the uncertain economic outlook. Despite this, currently it is expected that meetings will to be on a positive trajectory, mirroring the global trends.
2012 Europe - Planner Snapshot:
- Number of meetings expected: 75% expect the same amount or more in terms of the number of events held
- Number of attendees per meeting: 26% will decrease the number of attendees while 53% expect about the same
- Meeting locations: 62% booking in primary/large cities; 12% in secondary cities; 26% shifting bookings from primary cities to second-tier cities.
- Planner lead time: 43% expect decreases in their lead time for planning meetings and 11% expect an increase
Asia Pacific (APAC)
Meetings in the Asia Pacific region break the mold compared to what is forecasted to likely occur in the rest of the world primarily due to the strength of local economies. Unlike other markets, the size of individual meetings is expected to grow and surveys indicate companies are less concerned with avoiding luxury properties or limiting spending.
2012 Asia Pacific - Planner Snapshot:
- Number of meetings expected: 87% expect to increase or maintain the number of meetings held
- Number of attendees per meeting: 2% will decrease the number of attendees while 49% expect about the same; 43% will actually increases attendees per event
- Meeting locations: 62% booking in primary/large cities; 19% in secondary cities; 17% shifting bookings from primary cities to second-tier cities.
- Planner lead time: 26% expect decreases in their lead time for planning meetings and 9% expect an increase
Latin America (LATAM)
Moderate growth is projected for meetings in Latin America, and in particular hotel suppliers are seeing a boom in their meetings demand in key cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and Panama.
2012 Latin America - Planner Snapshot:
- Number of meetings expected: 61% expect to increase or maintain the number of meetings held
- Number of attendees per meeting: 32% will decrease the number of attendees while 18% expect about the same
- Meeting locations: 27% booking in primary/large cities; 37% in secondary cities; 6% shifting bookings from primary cities to second-tier cities.
- Planner lead time: 21% expect decreases in their lead time for planning meetings and 18% expect an increase.
About American Express Meetings & Events Forecast
The American Express Meetings & Events Meetings Forecast identifies key meetings activities and trends for 2012 on a global and regional basis, to help meeting professionals and executives strategically direct and make effective use of their meeting investment. The information used to develop this forecast was gathered from actual and planned meetings activity of American Express Meetings & Events and Maxvantage (in the U.S. and Canada) clients, multiple surveys of nearly 200 leading hotel suppliers and meeting professionals working in North America, Europe (France, BeNeLux, Germany, Nordics and United Kingdom), Asia Pacific and Latin America, and in-depth interviews with meeting experts responsible for meetings activity in their respective geographical areas.
About American Express Meetings and Events
American Express Meetings & Events, a division of the travel management company American Express Global Business Travel, offers capabilities spanning from program implementation to optimization, delivering powerful meeting experiences for clients. The team is comprised of more than 1000 employees world-wide focused on meeting and event sourcing, planning, contract negotiations, budgeting, expense management, reporting and benchmarking, combined with strategic counsel and integration of leading technology. This end-to-end approach focuses on creating visibility, driving savings and enabling effective meeting experiences.
With more than 40 years in the industry and an in-market presence in over 50 countries, American Express Meetings & Events is uniquely positioned to help you manage your meetings and events locally, regionally and across the globe. American Express Meetings & Events works with market leaders to enhance its offering to clients, creating alliances that provide clients with leading creative support for their meetings and events needs.