Each year, American Express Global Business Travel looks at the trends in international event planning and publishes the Global Meetings and Events Forecast. Through the course of over 100 pages, the Forecast examines the latest shifts in the field on both a global and regional scale.
We’ve written before about events in the age of the Experience Economy, and the Forecast agrees in its Executive Summary by Senior Vice President and General Manager of American Express Meetings and Events Issa Jouaneh: “Whether inspired by the current budget dynamics, technology, or by the increased importance meetings play in achieving organization goals, the focus on attendee experience is intensifying.”
While it’s as always a worthy read, it’s a lot to digest on a busy schedule so we’ve pulled out some of the main trends in the Global Forecast and compiled them here.
Trend 1: Destination Selection
One of the biggest questions to answer in event planning is the Where. In previous years the focus was on content over comfort, yet modern meetings require truly inspiring venues and memorable accommodations. Furthermore, accessibility is key – host cities with direct flight routes that offer easy international transportation options are winning out.
Trend 2: Meeting Approvals
Getting event approval is always the first hurdle, and global experts agree that team training and internal team meetings are the simplest projects to get approved, while special events and incentives are somewhat more difficult. When it comes to “plus-ones,” on incentive trips, 47% of North American planners allow attendees to bring a guest, while 44% do not – not altogether surprising figures given the cost of such events.
Trend 3: Attendee Experience
Like Kurt Cobain sang, “Here we are now, entertain us.” Attendees are demanding events that fulfil them on multiple levels, with the onus falling on planners to deliver meaningful meetings and memorable experiences. Physical space must merge with virtual ways to engage attendees, be it through paperless organization via apps or other interactive technologies. Extra-curricular on-site diversions (like those offered at Montréal’s annual C2 conference) are becoming de rigeur add-ons, all in aim of creating unique, boutique experiences.
Trend 4: Meetings Technology
The increase of technology incorporation at events has increased exponentially, with no signs of slowing down. Custom-made apps for each event have become standard, while interesting ways of networking and on-site time management (like PixMob’s wristbands and Klik’s event engagement tools) are proving unique ways for an event to shine ahead of the competition. Event planners are now faced with the challenge of creating consumer experiences for attendees that are worlds away from old school meetings – and the incorporation of technologies from apps to AI are paving the way forward. (An added value for planners is the collection of attendee data through app use, although this is an area the Forecast suggests still needs developing).
Trend 5: Meetings Management
Through focus on policy and transparency, event planners are entering a new era of strategic meeting management – in the process increasing experience while keeping a sharp eye on expense. North American poll respondents came back at 60% to 80% maintaining core meeting management components at the ready, and part of the credit for this upswing is due to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Striking the balance between experience and budget is a challenge being met by careful consideration.
To read the Forecast in full, download it here.
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