A presidential election in the United States, Brexit in the United Kingdom and a possible economic downturn across the globe: These are just a few of the potential speed bumps that lie ahead for businesses in 2020. The meetings industry, however, is well positioned to weather the storm, according to American Express Meetings & Events, which this week published its 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, in which it predicts “steady growth” across all meeting types for the fifth consecutive year in spite of economic and political instability.
Based on a survey of more than 550 meeting professionals from around the world as well as interviews with industry experts, this year’s report foresees modest increases in meetings spend in 2020, with organizational spending on meetings expected to increase by 1.3 percent in Asia Pacific, 1.6 percent in North America, 2.1 percent in Europe and 2.6 percent in Latin America.
The number of meetings also is expected to increase. In North America, the number of senior leadership/board meetings is expected to increase by 1.65 percent, conferences and trade shows also by 1.65 percent, internal team meetings/trainings by 2.09 percent and incentives/special events by 2.54 percent. Growth will be more modest in Europe, comparable to Latin America and Asia Pacific -- although conferences and trade shows in the latter are expected to outperform those in other regions, with 2 percent growth.
“Overall, 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 organizations of all shapes and sizes,” Gerardo Tejado, general manager of AmEx M&E, said in a statement. “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 personalized experiences.”
On that note, AmEx M&E found that planners across the globe have embraced an experiential mindset, so much so that meeting professionals in every region said they would prioritize experiential elements over logistics when planning their events in order to drive better engagement among attendees. Likewise, planners indicated they are optimistic about their ability to enhance the meeting experience by incorporating technology.
And yet, meeting professionals in 2020 will have to balance experiences with administration: Compliance with meetings management policies is expected to reach 85 percent next year as organizations seek to control risks in areas such as safety, security and -- thanks to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation -- data privacy.
“Planners must be mindful of ‘how’ they deliver an event experience while remaining GDPR compliant,” AmEx M&E cautioned.
The full 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast -- which includes special sections,on small meetings, personalized incentive travel programs and reconciliation/payments -- is available for complimentary download from AmEx M&E’s website.