American Express Meetings & Events’ 2020 Forecast Finds Planners Confident

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Gerardo Tejado

Reports of economic and political instability have not dampened the outlook of the meetings industry, finds the 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast by American Express Meetings & Events, a division of Amex GBT. According to the Forecast, meeting professionals are bullish about 2020, as steady growth across all meeting types is predicted for the fifth consecutive year.

Among the report’s findings:


  • Meetings planners are approaching attendee experience with heightened enthusiasm, with respondents indicating they would prioritize experiential elements over logistics to drive better engagement.
  • Planners are integrating technology in ways that mirror how attendees interact with technology in their daily lives to create authentic event experiences.
  • Other event aspects may be compromised to help fund these impactful moments.
  • There are currently more meetings taking place than there is space available, which will create challenges for organizers and planners.
  • Meetings management policies will become increasingly robust in 2020, with compliance levels predicted to reach 85% across regions.
  • Safety, security and preferred suppliers are the components most likely to have explicit language in meetings management policies.
  • In the era of GDPR, planners are addressing growing compliance and data privacy demands in their policy updates. 

“Overall, it’s inspiring to see an optimistic outlook about the meetings and events industry as we look to 2020,” said Gerardo Tejado, General Manager at American Express Meetings & Events. 

“Meetings and events have cemented their place as a critical driver of communications, growth, and engagement for organizations of all shapes and sizes. 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.”
North America: Hard Work Is Paying Off
As meeting professionals in North America look ahead to a year of stable growth, they
are seeing their meetings management efforts pay off. After years of promoting policy compliance, three out of four organizations have implemented formal approval processes.
North America will see a modest 1.6% increase in overall spend. There will still be more internal meetings than any other type of meeting, though the overall number is expected to fall from 30% to 25%, in part because of more incentive trips, which could rise to 15% from 11%.
Europe: Experience is “Almost” Everything
While attendee engagement is just as important in Europe as it is elsewhere, meeting professionals face specific challenges relating to GDPR (Europe’s data protection and privacy regulations) and the political instability caused by Brexit.  

Planners must be mindful of “how” they deliver an event experience while remaining GDPR compliant. Overall meeting spend is predicted to increase by 2.1%, and cost per attendee per day is expected to increase by 1.9% for incentives and special events. If budgets were to increase, 30% of those surveyed would focus on improving the onsite experience, up 5% from last year.
Asia Pacific: The Juggling Act
While total meeting spend for 2020 is predicted to rise across all regions, APAC will see the most modest increase at 1.3%. Planners continue to do more with less in the region, while always keeping the attendee experience in central focus.

Central and South America: Ready to Embrace Meetings Technology
Survey respondents in Central and South America are predicting a stable year for the meetings and events industry, and this is the only region where projected budget increases could match the expected rate increases. Group hotel rates are expected to increase by 2.3% along with group air rates at 1.7%, but overall meeting spend will see a healthy increase of 2.6%, along with the number of conferences and trade shows which will increase by 6%.

The 2020 Global Meetings & Events Forecast content is based on a survey of more than 550 meetings and events professionals from around the world, and interviews with industry experts. Respondents represent corporations, associations, buyers and suppliers from five continents and 33 countries. The result, the company says, is a statistically and globally representative picture of the 2020 meetings and events industry.
Click here to download the full report and access more content about the 2020 Global Meetings & Events Forecast.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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