American Express Meetings & Events Forecasts Steady Industry Growth in 2019

October 15, 2018

Steady growth is the meetings and event industry’s “new normal” according to the American Express Meetings & Events (M&E) 2019 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, released today at IMEX America.

For the fourth consecutive year, our industry has achieved consistent growth in both spend and attendees. In 2019, global meetings activity is expected to continue to grow, accompanied by small increases in budget allocation for meetings and events. This matches data from CWT Meetings & Events’ 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report, released earlier this month.

“2019 will be a growth year for the meetings industry, with activity expected to increase across all meeting types and regions,” said Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president & general manager, American Express Meetings & Events. “The challenge before planners is mastering this volume, while working with the reality of expenses increasing at a higher rate than meetings budgets.”

Growth can be a double-edged sword. Industry consolidation and disruptive suppliers put more pressure on meeting planners — but also deliver more opportunities for success through the ability to select best-of-breed suppliers and technologies. But to be successful, full marketing stack integration will be a necessity.  

“In the last 18 months, there has been an explosion of technology emerging for every part of the end-to-end meetings and events process,” said Milton Rivera, vice president, business development and strategy, American Express Meetings & Events.

He added, “From the time an attendee leaves their doorstep to the time they return from the meeting, there are technology solutions for very specific things – nutritional information for the event menus, or aggregate ground transportation, for example. It’s extremely fragmented and can be overwhelming for planners to have to navigate.”

As emerging technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and facial recognition transform meetings and events, American Express M&E predicts that compliance and privacy concerns will take a higher priority than ever before.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has already had a global impact, putting the onus on any company attempting to market to or hold data on European Union residents. Regional or state-wide privacy laws such as the recently passed California Consumer Privacy Act, which will go into effect in 2020, will only further complicate the landscape.

For event marketers doing business globally, adhering to a privacy policy that meets or exceeds the strictest requirements of all such regulations may be the easiest solution, but the challenge will be to continue to provide immersive, engaging, personalized experiences without infringing upon attendees’ privacy.  

Jouaneh believes that strategic planning is the key to success.

“Strategic meetings built around defined goals that prioritize the attendee experience and embrace technology will continue to elevate meetings as a business tool despite these challenges,” he said.

The report examines budgets, spend, the number of meetings and other industry-specific metrics by geographic region. Findings are based on data gathered in a global survey of meeting professionals and suppliers as well as industry data and in-depth interviews with planners and buyers, meeting, air and ground suppliers worldwide.  

There are also three special sections: The Future of Personalization by the Banks Sadler team, a meetings management and consulting services company acquired by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) in 2017; Meetings Legal Trends; and a Latin America Destination Report, which expands on how and why to plan meetings in the region’s top destinations.

To download the full report, go here.

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