Moderate growth for meetings industry in 2020: Amex forecast

Among others, findings show planners are prioritising experience over logistics to drive better engagement

The challenge for meetings planners in 2020 now lies in making more out of what they have.
The challenge for meetings planners in 2020 now lies in making more out of what they have.

SYDNEY - The mood of economic and political instability have not dampened the outlook of the meetings industry for 2020, that is according a forecast by American Express Meetings & Events (M&E).

According to the forecast, meeting professionals are bullish about 2020, as steady growth across all meeting types is predicted for the fifth consecutive year.

"It's inspiring to see an optimistic outlook about the meetings and events industry as we look to 2020. Meetings and events have cemented their place as a critical driver of communications, growth, and engagement for organisations of all shapes and sizes," said Gerardo Tejado, general manager at American Express Meetings & Events.

"The challenge for planners now lies in making more out of what they have-creating a seamless experience for meeting attendees, using technology for an authentic purpose, and meeting the demand for personalised experiences."


•    Meetings planners are approaching attendee experience with heightened enthusiasm, with respondents indicating they would prioritise experiential elements over logistics to drive better engagement.
•    Planners are integrating technology in ways that mirror how attendees interact with technology in their daily lives to create authentic event experiences.
•    Other event aspects may be compromised to help fund these impactful moments.
•    There are currently more meetings taking place than there is space available, which will create challenges for organisers and planners.
•    Meetings management policies will become increasingly robust in 2020, with compliance levels predicted to reach 85% across regions.
•    Safety, security and preferred suppliers are the components most likely to have explicit language in meetings management policies.
•    In the era of GDPR, planners are addressing growing compliance and data privacy demands in their policy updates.


North America
As meeting professionals in North America look ahead to a year of stable growth, they are seeing their meetings management efforts pay off. After years of promoting policy compliance, three out of four organisations have implemented formal approval processes.

North America will see a modest 1.6% increase in overall spend. There will still be more internal meetings than any other type of meeting, though the overall number is expected to fall from 30% to 25%, in part because of more incentive trips, which could rise to 15% from 11%.

While attendee engagement is just as important in Europe as it is elsewhere, meeting professionals face specific challenges relating to GDPR and the political instability caused by Brexit.  Planners must be mindful of "how" they deliver an event experience while remaining GDPR compliant.

Overall meeting spend is predicted to increase by 2.1%, and cost per attendee per day is expected to increase by 1.9% for incentives and special events. If budgets were to increase, 30% of those surveyed would focus on improving the onsite experience, up 5% from last year.

Asia Pacific
While total meeting spend for 2020 is predicted to rise across all regions, APAC will see the most modest increase at 1.3%. Planners continue to do more with less in the region, while always keeping the attendee experience in central focus.

While meeting professionals indicate more varied preferences for how they would address changing budgets, such as reducing number of nights (16%), onsite travel staff (13%), and room drops (13%), 35% of respondents indicated they would improve the onsite experience if budgets were increased by 10%.

Central and South America
Central and South America are predicting a stable year for the meetings and events industry, and this is the only region where projected budget increases could match the expected rate increases. Central and South America are also the most optimistic about planners' abilities to incorporate technology to enhance their meeting experience.


Group hotel rates are expected to increase by 2.3% along with group air rates at 1.7%.

However, overall meeting spend will see a healthy increase of 2.6%, along with the number of conferences and trade shows which will increase by 6%.

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