Annual report informed by global survey of industry professionals
signals a return to pre-pandemic numbers in 1-2 years
New York, NY – November 9, 2021 – Meeting professionals say they are feeling more confident and well-equipped to plan high-quality meetings and events and adapt to any ongoing uncertainties. This is according to the 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, the 11th annual report produced by American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel (GBT).
The report’s global survey of meetings and events professionals found that two-thirds (67%) of respondents believe in-person meeting levels will return to their pre-pandemic numbers within one to two years.
In-person meetings and events are projected to grow in 2022, with 81% of events expected to have an in-person element. Another indicator of industry growth is the 64% of global meetings and events professionals citing increased budgets for next year. However, the industry is neither expecting nor planning a return to business as usual, and instead professionals intend to take lessons learned during the pandemic to improve the value, effectiveness and sustainability of future events.
“While we are all eager to see the pent-up demand for meetings and events fully realized, we recognize that recovery will not be a straight line and we can’t get there by simply repeating what we’ve done in the past,” said Gerardo Tejado, GBT’s Senior Vice President of Value Development and General Manager of Meetings & Events. “As we look to 2022, we expect the optimism, resourcefulness and innovation we’ve seen in the sector over the past two years lead to a new era of thoughtful, tech-forward, responsible M&E strategies.”
The Forecast finds the value of internal meetings is increasingly recognized by organizations, with internal and training meetings projected to see the largest growth in 2022. Despite the rise of in-person meetings and events, virtual and hybrid formats will continue to play a key role, according to global survey respondents. Hybrid meeting formats will continue to gain traction as they help expand reach to wider audiences, create a built-in virtual contingency plan, and increase return on investment. An increased number of attendees is expected across all event types and formats.
The environment will be a priority for most meetings and events programs in 2022: 83% of respondents said their organizations take sustainability into account when planning meetings and events. The sustainability practices most cited by respondents were minimizing paper usage and applying energy-saving and waste reduction measures for their 2022 meetings.
Around the world: the regional picture
Meeting professionals in North America are strongly optimistic about a recovery in 2022. At the time of the survey, 74% ranked optimism level as 8 or higher, on a scale of 1-10. The region was the leader in resuming in-person meetings and events, with 31% already doing so in June/July this year – and at the time were most likely to have in-person events scheduled for 2022 (54%).
Meeting professionals in Europe are guardedly optimistic about 2022 – 59% had an optimism level of 8 or higher on a scale of 1-10; the lowest of the four regions. However, 48% of European events in 2022 are expected to be in-person-only, the second-highest region after North America. And although respondents predict a slower recovery than in other regions, 86% are confident that in-person attendee numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels within five years.
Central and South America
Meeting professionals in Central and South America are the most optimistic about the industry’s prospects for 2022, with 87% ranked their optimism level as 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10, while 82% believe their career options are good to excellent. The region’s projection for in-person components for events is slightly lower than the others, at 76% – however 81% of respondents expect in-person attendee numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the next one to two years, the highest regional result.
Meeting professionals in the Asia-Pacific region are fairly positive about the health of the industry in 2022. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said they would rank their optimism level as 8 or higher on a scale of 1-10, and 58% believe their career options are good to excellent. They expect 81% of 2022 events in the region to include an in-person component. And 62% of respondents in the region expect in-person attendee numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the next one to two years.
The 2022 Forecast is based on a survey of 500 meetings and events professionals and interviews with top industry experts. The survey and interviews took place from June to July 2021. Respondents represented corporations, associations, buyers, and suppliers across 31 countries. The result is a statistically and globally representative snapshot of what to expect in the meetings and events industry in 2022
About American Express Meetings & Events
American Express 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 in all delivery formats including virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face. The global team is 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 a presence in over 140 countries, American Express Meetings & Events is uniquely positioned to manage meetings and events locally, regionally, internationally, and across the globe. The company’s broad capabilities meet the full spectrum of every client’s meetings and events needs, especially through GBT’s 2017 acquisition of events management agency, Banks Sadler, and the 2018 acquisition of travel management company, HRG, including its meetings and events division. American Express Meetings & Events works with local leaders to enhance its offerings to clients.
For 15 consecutive years, American Express Meetings & Events has been recognized on Meetings Net’s “CMI 25” list, an annual directory of the largest and most influential full-service meeting and incentive travel management companies focused on the US corporate meetings and incentives industry. To learn more about the services offered by American Express Meetings & Events, visit:
About American Express Global Business Travel
American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is the world’s leading business partner for managed travel. We help companies and their employees prosper by making sure travelers are present where and when it matters. We keep global business moving with the powerful backing of travel professionals in more than 140 countries. Companies of all sizes, and in all places, rely on GBT to provide travel management services, organize meetings and events, and deliver business travel consulting.
Paul Revel, Senior Manager, Global Communications & Public Affairs,
American Express Global Business Travel
Tel: +44 (0) 7786-692665