Mike Fletcher picks through the findings of Amex’s 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast and speaks to the American Express Meetings & Events team ahead of their presentation at IBTM World later this month.
A majority of people surveyed for Amex’s 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast now anticipate that the number of in-person events will return to pre-pandemic levels within one to two years.
In North America, where respondents reported the highest percentage of completely remote workforces, internal and smaller meetings have already surpassed 2019 levels.
“This has been true within our meetings and events business,” says Gerardo Tejado Senior Vice President, Global Value Development and General Manager, Meetings & Events at American Express.
Amex’s 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast is based on a survey of 580 meetings and events professionals from around the world, which took place in May and June. Respondents represent corporations, associations, buyers, and suppliers from five continents and 23 countries.
What did the survey find?
The prevailing mood among respondents at the time of the survey was one of positivity, while also feeling overwhelmed as the return to in-person meetings was happening more rapidly and at a greater volume than had been expected.
All meeting types are now expected to increase in 2023, particularly in-person meetings. Globally, predicted in-person increases range from 3.3% for conferences and trade shows to 4.2% for ‘small and simple’ meetings.
Virtual and hybrid meetings are expected to see more modest increases, ranging from 0.2% more product launches to 1.6% more client and customer advisory boards.
With a stronger bounce-back comes increased spend, evidenced by 65% of respondents who reported that meetings spend is increasing.
Broken down by region, 12% of respondents in both North America and Europe expect their budgets to increase significantly, by 11% or more.
The cost per attendee for all meeting types, in all formats, is predicted to increase as well, by a low of 1.5% for ‘small and simple’ meetings to a high of 3% for conferences and trade shows.
Some 45% of respondents said that their internal meeting experiences now include overnight accommodation while 40% said they’re held in a different city. Some 27% said their internal meetings now include international air travel.
Sofia Eriksson, Senior Manager Global Business Development & Strategy for American Express Meetings & Events says:
“As a result, the number of internal meetings will continue to rise, along with how much companies are spending on internal meetings – in line with accelerated remote working patterns.”
As a consequence, hotels are already reporting bookings above 2019 levels and globally, respondents forecast hotel rate increases of 4.9% in 2023.
However, there was some variation by region, with only a 2.5% predicted increase in Asia Pacific compared with a 7.4% anticipated rise in North America.
“Average rates continue to rise due to higher labour, food, and other fixed costs, along with the impact of inflation – we believe that trend will continue with high demand,” Jonathan Kaplan, VP, America Sales at IHG Hotels and Resorts tells the report.
What are some of the key trends?
Amid all the action, a new focus on partnerships, sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), plus technology is also underway, according to Amex’s Forecast. Meetings and events are back, and the way they are planned is evolving.
Some 87% of respondents say their organisation now actively strives to incorporate DE&I into its meetings and events. There are multiple ways to accomplish these goals, including choosing destinations with active outreach to multicultural groups, partnering with minority-owned suppliers and only booking venues that are 100% accessible.
Sustainability meanwhile has moved from a buzzword to a corporate mandate.
“We all need to travel and meet smarter and more sustainably,” Eriksson says.
“It’s not about traveling and meeting less. It’s about traveling and meeting smarter and having common approaches and methodologies in place.”
Eloísa Urrutia, Head of M&E Sustainability Solutions at American Express Meetings & Events agrees: “Now that there’s global consensus that sustainability must be a factor within meeting programmess, organisations are looking for help to develop a roadmap that will specifically address education, planning, tracking, and reporting,” she says.
The Joint Meetings Industry Council presented the roadmap to which Urrutia refers during COP27. It features a detailed document on how to implement action to achieve net zero and a 20-page executive summary. To help deliver the roadmap, eight work-streams have been identified and 42 representatives from 32 organisations have already registered to participate.
What is the conclusion?
American Express’ Gerardo Tejado concludes his company’s analysis into meetings and events for 2023. He says: “Strong supplier relationships are more important than ever these days. It’s a seller’s market and that will likely continue into 2024, as space, air, and F&B availability are expected to remain constrained while suppliers deal with labour shortages, ongoing supply chain issues, and inflation. Clients who are flexible and clear on what the goals are for their meetings are more likely to achieve their objectives.
“We are pleased though to see a renewed respect for the value of meetings and events, as an understanding of the sector’s critical role in building culture and driving business continues to grow. This respect, combined with the industry’s depth of knowledge and experience, signals a bright future indeed.”
Sofia Eriksson, Senior Manager Global Business Development & Strategy for American Express Meetings & Events will discuss the 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast on-stage at the Knowledge Theatre from 16.00 to 16.45 on Day One of IBTM World in Barcelona.
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