Looking Forward: American Express Forecasts 2017 Meeting Trends

The latest edition of an annual American Express Meetings and Events report, predicting meeting trends for 2017, suggests that tradeshows and conferences in North America will see a decline in growth, with smaller events taking their place.

According to new research from American Express, next year could be the year of the slimmer, more focused meeting.

In the latest edition of American Express’ Global Meetings and Events Forecast, the company’s meetings and events business (which American Express jointly owns with Certares)  anticipates that program spending will stay about even, globally, with a projected increase of less than 1 percent in North America next year, but the number of meetings and the number of attendees at each meeting might drop slightly.

That said, the a deeper dive into the numbers highlighted some important trends: For one, respondents reported that a few common types of events—product launches, conferences and tradeshows, and incentives and special events—were anticipated to see decreases next year in North America, with conferences and tradeshows expected to see decreases by greater than 20 percent in the number of meetings planned as well as meeting length. Attendance levels at tradeshows are likely to stay steady in North America, though steep declines are projected in both Central and South America and are above 20 percent in the Asia-Pacific region.

The report suggests that the number of tradeshows decreasing, but attendee levels staying roughly the same, implies that event types were likely to diversify in the coming year. In the case of North America, that’s leading to a more strategic focus on smaller, higher-quality events, with an emphasis on improved content.

“Interestingly, for the most part, these meeting types are not expected to change significantly in size, though fewer may be held overall, while respondents suggest increases in the size of many other smaller types, led by training and internal team meetings,” the report states about tradeshows held in Europe.

The report suggests this mindfulness regarding meeting size is partly related to cost, leading to narrower, more focused meetings.

Also notable is the increased interest in security. One survey respondent based in France noted that the recent events in that country have encouraged meeting organizers to invest more on security issues. “Safety is the big issue,” the meetings professional stated. “While rates are an issue, safety is the most important factor for us. Saving money on rooms is good, but companies are willing to pay a little more for safety.”

The report comes as some shifts in the tradeshow space have appeared in recent months—particularly affecting the world of technology. In June, CTIA announced it was replacing its long-running Super Mobility event with a U.S. version of the the GSM Association’s Mobile World Congress. And earlier this month, both NCTA—The Internet & Television Association and the Food Marketing Institute said they were sunsetting their long-running tradeshows, citing a shift in market interest.

The full report is available on the American Express Global Business Travel website.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!