According to the 2014 American Express Meetings & Events Global Meetings Forecast, following two years of modest budget and activity increases, flat or slight declines in meetings spend per organisation are expected across all regions heading into 2014. Industry activity appears likely to be stabilising 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 organisers will likely continue to face challenges as they strive to achieve more with flat or decreasing budgets expected, compared to previous years. In addition, the forecast also identifies four key trends which may help to shape meeting planning globally in 2014.
- Increased scrutiny
Senior executives are seeking greater visibility into M&E spending, and assurances that activity is aligned to company objectives. As a result, meeting planners will place greater emphasis on a rigorous meetings approval process, and on setting and adhering to strict guidelines that address the potentially high-risk areas of the meetings supply chain such as meetings approval, payment, reporting and auditing.
- Close to home
We expect meeting planners to organise more local and regional meetings to make the most of restricted budgets and reduce time out of the office. Compliance, cost and travel time are the top drivers of this trend.
- Meeting venues and rates
Non-traditional properties, such as outdoor venues, universities and aquariums, are becoming increasingly popular as meeting venues. There is also an increasing trend towards incorporating group fares in strategic meetings programmes.
- Group Air rates
Group air rates are expected to remain relatively flat this or see some very modest increases over the next two years. As planners become more aware of the cost advantages, and flexibility and security benefits associated with group bookings fares, they are likely to focus more on this area. Many planners looking to find increased savings in a world where budgets are remaining stable but meeting needs are growing, are likely to turn to group air to help alleviate a bit of pressure.
- Technology trumps all
Meeting planners are expected to face greater pressure to incorporate meeting-specific apps and social media technologies into their events. Expectations regarding interactivity with other attendees, the ability to share opinions and ‘review’ a meeting in progress, as well as access to deeper information about presenters and content, are growing among meeting attendees. However, meeting planners and owners need to have clear strategies for incorporating and managing social media within their events to help deliver positive outcomes.
In 2014, meeting planners have an opportunity to demonstrate the value of events by continuing to look for opportunities to contain costs and increase efficiency including taking advantage of group fares and local venues and embracing new technologies to enhance the meeting experience and outcomes.
This blog was written by Michael Schuller, Vice President, American Express Meetings & Events, Europe. American Express Meetings & Events is exhibiting at this year’s Business Travel Show, stand B1033.