One decade on from the 2008 global economic recession, we are delighted to report that the 2019 Meetings & Events Forecast has revealed that the meetings industry has bounced back, and has settled into a new normal of steady and stable growth. The eighth annual report, produced by the American Express Meetings & Events team, surveyed over 700 meetings and events professionals from around the world. Survey respondents represent meeting planners and meeting owners from corporations and associations of all sizes, as well as meeting sourcing professionals, and air and hotel suppliers.

The 2019 Forecast found that:

  • In 2019, global meetings activity is expected to rise along with small increases in budget.
  • Consolidation across the industry and the rise of new players creates an environment where meeting planners feel more pressure but also have more choice.
  • The industry is collectively making strides toward long-term challenges, such as live inventory for small and simple meetings.
  • Regional forecasts are also optimistic, reflecting overall industry sentiment.

Alongside this stability and optimism, we also saw across the board that planners have noticed that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is impacting the industry far beyond Europe where the regulation was developed. As emerging technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition transform meetings and events and create more data, compliance and privacy concerns will only grow in importance. These technologies offer attendees what they’re becoming accustomed to in their daily lives, which will make meetings more engaging.

Issa Jouaneh, Senior Vice President & General Manager at American Express Meetings & Events said, “2019 will be a growth year for the meetings industry, with activity expected to increase across all meeting types and regions.”

Specifically in North America, planners are managing competing demands: they need to improve the attendee experience while working within budgetary constraints. The region will see small, but material, increases in number of meetings, attendees, meeting length, and cost per attendee – a hallmark of the industry’s new normal. Meeting budgets are expected to increase by 0.8% despite increasing hotel rates (2.4%) and lower commissions, which two thirds of planners cite as the main consequence of hotel consolidation. Doing more with less is the persistent goal of the meeting planner in this region, with 33% of those surveyed reporting they would elevate content first if corporate meetings budgets increased.

The 2019 Global Meetings and Events Forecast by American Express Meetings & Events also contains 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 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.

Click here to download the full report and access more content around the 2019 Global Meetings & Events Forecast.