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Overall 2014 meetings spending by North American clients of
American Express Meetings & Events will fall flat when compared to 2013
levels, while clients elsewhere on average anticipated small decreases,
according to the company's 2014 meetings forecast, released this week.
Amex projected that meetings management clients in the
Asia/Pacific region would experience a 3.6 percent decrease in year-over-year
meeting spending, the sharpest decline forecast among global regions. For clients
in Europe and Latin America, Amex projected declines of 1.8 percent and 1.4
Amex based its forecast on "a number of sources,"
including "proprietary American Express data sources," licensed
third-party data, "interviews with industry leaders," information
gleaned from its 2014 global business travel forecast and surveys
conducted in September of meeting professionals and "leading hotel
Flat or lower meetings spending projections come despite
forecasts of higher hotel rates for meetings and group airfares, according to
the report. Though Amex forecast flat hotel rates in Europe for meetings, the
company projected increases of 4.1 percent for North America and 4.6 percent
and 3.3 percent for Asia/Pacific and Latin America, respectively.
"Hotels that responded to our survey are not as
optimistic about rate increases as meeting planners are," according to the
Amex report. "One of our European experts has seen hoteliers in 2013
attempt to raise rates, only to find them return to the same level as 2012 at
the end of negotiations."
Amex projected group airfares in 2014 to increase 1.6
percent year over year, then increase another 1.1 percent in 2015.
International 2014 group airfares are projected to increase 3 percent, while
intra-regional fares are expected to increase between 1 percent and 2.2 percent
in every region except the Middle East, where they are projected to decline 1
American Express 2014 forecast survey respondents reported
notably lower adoption of hybrid or virtual meeting solutions than respondents
projected in last year's survey. Although 56 percent of those polled in 2012 predicted
that hybrid or virtual meetings would represent at least 10 percent of their total
meetings activity, Amex determined that only 26 percent of respondents actually
reached that level in 2013. The company suggested that "relatively slow
growth" is a consequence of meeting buyers too narrowly viewing those
options through cost-control prisms.
"The two most compelling reasons, cost savings and
reduced travel, appear to be driving an increase in use of virtual
solutions," according to the report. "While these are important
considerations, virtual meetings can deliver expanded reach, extend a live
event, and more. These alternative formats may continue to experience only
modest gains in utilization until meeting owners are focused on using them to
achieve business outcomes versus savings."
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