Meetings spend and attendee numbers to drop in 2015 – Is this an opportunity or a threat?

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Meetings & Events

Meetings spend and attendee numbers to drop in 2015 – Is this an opportunity or a threat?

Meetings buyers have been warned to make the most of “squeezed” budgets next year as overall MICE spend is expected to decline, according to the American Express Meetings and Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast.

The study published in November 2015 shows despite a predicted increase of 1.2 per cent in meeting numbers, overall spend as well as individual budget and attendee numbers are all expected to fall next year.
UK budgets are set to decrease slightly by 0.7 per cent and overall meeting spend is predicted to decline by 1.1 per cent. This is in sharp contrast to the 4.8 per cent increase in meeting spend that was predicted for 2014.
According to the study, after a projected 4.5 per cent increase in the number of meetings in 2014, the UK is expected to enjoy only small increases across all meeting types in 2015.

Advisory board meetings are expected to see the highest increase, growing by 3.3 per cent, while attendee numbers for this meeting type are expected to grow by 1 per cent. Attendees of most other meetings, including sales and marketing, internal team meetings and conferences, are expected to see small declines of 1.6 per cent, 0.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.

So is this a great time for Meeting Planners to get more for less?

Can you still deliver the same quality of experience as in previous years?

How can you still be creative and extract maximum value from your meeting budget?

Where can savings be made?

In light of the report findings and the warnings for meetings buyers to make the most of squeezed budgets, we believe this is perfect timing to review your existing programmes and where a formal programme is not yet in place, its definitely time to set one up. 

For many organisations, Meetings and Events is unmanaged area which brings significant commercial risks for budget holders and the wider company. One solution is to implement a strategic meetings programme.  A well-crafted meetings programme has many benefits; cost savings are maximised, budgets deliver more for less and commercial, financial and HSSE risk is mitigated.

However, the success of any conference or event doesn't end on the bottom line. The cost is an investment and the returns can be found in the lessons learned, the ideas shared and the decisions made. From scouting the ideal venue and creating a social programme, to online registration and on site attendee management, you need to be ready to deliver an excellent experience for delegates, attendees and colleagues. This should be the first priority of effective conference planning.

Read more on the American Express Meetings and Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast below.

European growth

AMEX meetings and events said some companies from the UK are organising more meetings in the European Union, in part to boost participation from central European attendees without pushing travel costs too high.

There is also a trend towards holding meetings at airport locations, driven by the mandate to keep meetings short and maximise the productive time available for attendees.

Technology trends

The study found that virtual meetings are yet to “capture the hearts of meetings owners” in Europe with 15 per cent of those surveyed citing that virtual and hybrid meetings are “not viable alternatives to live meetings”.

Destination trends

The study found some European companies are pursuing regional meetings rather than hold large events that draw attendees globally. European planners cited “perception around resort destinations” as being an area of concern and a 1.6 per cent increase in the use of non-traditional meetings facilities is predicted for 2015.
The economic crisis appears to have provided a “silver lining” for some city destinations, the study showed - with southern European cities which were hit hard by the downturn, such as Madrid, Athens and Rome, becoming more attractive to meeting owners looking for lower rates.

AMEX meetings and events is a subsidiary of American Express Global Business Travel.