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Industry settled into “new normal” of steady growth, says American Express GBT

A decade after the 2008 financial crash, the industry has bounced back and settled into a new normal of steady growth, according to American Express GBT Meetings & Events.

The 2019 Global Meetings and Events Forecast shows activity across meeting types is increasing, with budgets forecast to grow by 0.7 per cent, while hotel rates are predicted to rise by 1.6 per cent. The industry has achieved consistent growth in spend and attendees for the fourth consecutive year, solidifying its value as a business enabler.

“2019 will be a growth year for the meetings industry, with activity expected to increase across all meeting types and regions,” said Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager at American Express Meetings & Events. “The challenge before planners is mastering this volume, while working with the reality of expenses increasing at a higher rate than meetings budgets. Strategic meetings built around defined goals that prioritise the attendee experience and embrace technology will continue to elevate meetings as a business tool despite these challenges.”

In 2019, global meetings activity is expected to grow along with small increases in budget allocation for meetings and events. Consolidation across the industry and the rise of disruptive suppliers creates an environment where meeting planners feel more pressure but also have more choice.

This dynamic allows the industry to collectively tackle long-term challenges, such as live inventory for small and simple meetings, and increased opportunities for attendee engagement. Regional forecasts are also optimistic, reflecting overall industry sentiment.

Surveyed planners agreed that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is affecting 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, making meetings more immersive and engaging.

Last year’s forecast found that UK planners were the most optimistic in Europe.

Earlier this year, American Express Global Business Travel launched a new offering, Business Travel Made Simple, designed to provide ‘travel management in a box.’