With Higher Meetings Costs and Tighter Budgets, North America Expected to Be Relatively Flat and Europe and Central/South America Projected to Decline 

Latest Edition of the Meetings & Events Forecast Also Highlights Top Meeting Destinations in Each Region in 2013

NEW YORK – November 27, 2012 – According to the American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events 2013 Global Meetings Forecast (“the Forecast”), Asia Pacific, with its relatively strong economy, is likely to see the strongest growth among regions in both spending and the number of meetings.  In North America, economic uncertainty is expected to keep those categories relatively flat, while Europe will likely experience declines as it continues to face a currency crisis and, due to political instability in some markets, Central/South America is also expected to see slight declines overall, especially in spend.

The findings are based on a comprehensive survey, extensive meetings and events data, and in-depth interviews of meetings professionals – including planners, buyers and hotel suppliers from around the world – conducted by American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events.  The Forecast examines predictions regarding budget, spend, the number of meetings, lead times and other meetings-specific metrics by geographic market.  It also provides insight into key trends in meeting planning for 2013, and explores some of the key tactics meeting planners are using to reduce costs and improve program efficiency.

“Companies consider meetings and events to be a key strategy to driving revenue growth and change management, but acknowledge that they are proceeding with caution in a challenging global economy,” said Issa Jouaneh, Vice President and General Manager, American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events.  “To maximize the return on their investment, companies are highly focused on gaining clarity around spend, ensuring transparency as to why their organizations are holding meetings and who is attending them, and measuring the degree to which their meetings objectives have been achieved.”

“While Asia Pacific is likely to experience growth in 2013, as Europe sees declines, meeting professionals in every region point to budget challenges and the need to ascertain their companies’ own financial performance before they make investments in meetings as top influencers of their programs,” continued Jouaneh.  “As a result, one of the top emerging trends in the space is the shift to more local meetings.  Meetings professionals are also preparing for group hotel and air expenses to rise next year.”

Below are high-level snapshots of the key predictions made by meetings professionals in each region.

Survey Highlights: Regional Meetings Professional Predictions 

Prediction: North America Europe Asia Central/South America
Number of Meetings 0.0% (-2.3)% 6.4% (-1.1)%
Overall Meeting Spend (-1.0)% (-6.0)% 4.2% (-3.5)%
Average Group Rates for Hotels 4.2% 0.0% 4.0% 4.7%
Average Group Rates for Airfare 3.3% 2.9%(1) 2.9% 3.2%(2)
Top 5 Destination 1. Orlando
2. Washington DC
3. Las Vegas
4. Miami
5. Chicago
1. London
2. Paris
4. Barcelona
5. Brussels
1. Shanghai
2. Singapore
3. Sydney
4. Beijing
5. Bangkok
1. Riviera Maya/Cancun/ Quintana Roo
2. Rio De Janeiro
3. San Juan
4. Buenos Aires
5. Punta Cana

1) Average of Eastern and Western European predictions

2) Average of Central and South American predictions

Global Meeting Planning Trends

The Forecast also explores several challenges meeting planners are facing as they look to 2013, and identifies four distinct trends that are common across all markets:

1)    Budget Challenges Mean More Local Meetings – To maintain current levels of meetings activity in an environment where budgets are likely not growing in step with costs, many companies are transitioning from global to national or from national to regional locations for more meetings. Also, there is a trend of holding meetings in unique destinations such as restaurants or aquariums for potential additional savings.

2)    Security and Stability Impacting Destination Choice – A continued emphasis on duty of care is translating to a focus on safety and security amidst potential political instability when planning a meeting in 2013. Suppliers indicated that this can sometimes be an advantage; for instance, some major hotel brands located in regions with political instability said they are often chosen based on the perception amongst meeting planners that they offer a more consistent, higher level of security.

3)    Meetings Approvals Becoming More Challenging – A significant portion of meeting planners in all regions indicated that gaining approvals for their meetings is becoming at least slightly more difficult.  In addition, there is an emerging trend of meetings budgets not being approved until companies’ latest financial data is available.  This dynamic is putting even more pressure on already reduced lead times and can negatively impact hotel negotiations, potentially leading to higher costs. 

4)    Increasing Engagement Via Social Media – Meeting planners are responding to the expectations of today’s meeting attendees by employing social media to increase the value of events throughout their lifecycle.  Leading up to events, planners are using social media to connect with attendees and to connect attendees to one another so they can maximize their time at an event.  During events, social media is being used to drive even deeper connections and more immersive education sessions, presentation Q&A and other activities.  After events, social media is also being used to extend event communities and foster connections made during events.

This year, the Forecast is accompanied by three special sections that explore key tactics meeting planners are using to reduce costs and improve program effectiveness, including meetings payments, electronic requests for proposals, and virtual meetings.

To request a complimentary copy of the Forecast, please visit the American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events Resource Center at www.americanexpress.com/meetingsandevents.

About the American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events Forecast

The Forecast identifies key meetings activities and trends for 2013 on a global and regional basis, to help meeting professionals and executives strategically direct and make effective use of their meeting investment.  Numerous sources were used to develop the Forecast including proprietary American Express Global Business Travel data sources, licensed third-party data and industry information, data from the American Express Global Business Travel Forecast 2013 and interviews with industry leaders.  Information and data was gathered from actual and planned meetings activity of American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events globally and Maxvantage clients in North America.  Surveys of meeting professionals were conducted to gather trends across North America, Europe (France, BeNeLux, Germany, Nordic, Spain and United Kingdom), Asia Pacific and Central/South America. A survey of leading suppliers and follow-up interviews were also used to inform the finding in the Forecast.

About American Express Global Business Travel Meetings and Events
American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel, offers longstanding experience, expertise and leading capabilities spanning program implementation to budget optimization to deliver powerful meetings and events experiences for clients. The team is comprised of more than 1400 employees world-wide focused on meetings and events sourcing, planning, contract negotiations, budgeting, expense management, reporting and benchmarking, combined with strategic counsel and integration of leading technology.  This end-to-end approach focuses on creating visibility, driving savings and enabling effective meeting experiences.

With more than 40 years in the industry and an in-market presence in over 50 countries, American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events is uniquely positioned to manage meetings and events locally, regionally, internationally and across the globe. American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events works with market leaders to enhance its offering to clients.  To learn more about the services offered by American Express Global Business Travel Meetings & Events, visit https://www.amexglobalbusinesstravel.com/meetingsandevents.

About American Express Global Business Travel

Positioned at the intersection of commerce and travel, American Express Global Business Travel offers its customers a comprehensive network, dependability, and deep insights to help move people and businesses forward. American Express Global Business Travel provides leading travel solutions, integrated consulting services, proprietary research, and end-to-end meetings and events capabilities. These innovative offerings enable clients to optimize the return on their travel and meetings investments. Learn more at www.americanexpress.com/businesstravel.

American Express Global Business Travel is part of one of the world’s largest travel agency networks with locations in over 140 countries worldwide. Total travel sales volume processed in 2011 was $29.3 billion, including consolidated volume and non-consolidated volume processed through joint ventures and its partner network.

American Express Global Business Travel is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.  Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpressfoursquare.com/americanexpresslinkedin.com/companies/american-expresstwitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

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