The Asia Pacific region is bucking trends and is on track for growth in 2017, according to the latest American Express Global Meetings & Events Forecast.

American Express (AMEX) Meetings & Events APAC regional director, Belinda Doery, says increases in the number of meetings and number of meeting attendees are expected across a number of event types, including product launches, conferences and tradeshows.

“Australia in particular has high expectations for M&E activity in 2017, and is one of the few countries to predict a rise in budgets for the year,” she says.

“Australia, along with other countries within Asia Pacific, continue to see their M&E programs mature, and this is bringing increased line-of-sight over expenditure.

“Singapore continues to play a major role as a regional hub for M&E activity for many international companies. Interestingly, Shanghai has dropped from second to sixth in popularity as a MICE destination, and greater scrutiny and compliance regulations could account for some aspects of this decline. However, with Shanghai leading the region for hotel openings in 2017, with 23 hotels opening, Shanghai will likely move higher again over the next few years.

“When considering meetings locations, Asia Pacific holds greater concerns over safety than any other region globally.

“While many companies are not conducting formal investigations into the security, safety, and political stability of major cities, they are making decisions based on intelligence feeds, government alerts, and perception, while also weighing this up against costs.”

Asia Pacific’s top 10 – The top ten cities in the region are similar to last year with Singapore in the number one spot again. Sydney replaces Shanghai as number two. Shanghai moves to sixth on the list and Kuala Lumpur moves into third. Seoul makes it on the list for 2017 as the tenth top city in the region.

North America – Across North America, organisations continue their global expansion efforts through organisational growth, as well as M&A. This type of activity increases the need for additional training and internal meetings. Respondents predict meeting spend will be flat with less than one per cent change in budget overall. This may be influenced by the economic slowdown in Canada and change of U.S. president.

Europe – Throughout Europe, the focus on strategically managing meetings has risen in importance within organisations, especially as they allow more flexibility in local countries to match local culture and compliant business practices. Brexit and concerns over terrorism have also created a sense of caution across the region.

Central/South America – Global sporting events like the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have brought increased interest and traffic to the region, but the slowdown in the economy and Zika virus outbreak have translated to lower demand for 2017. We expect overall budgets to increase slightly at 1.1 percent, as well as healthy activity from businesses in Central/South America.

Asia Pacific – We are optimistic about activity in the Asia Pacific region, with an increased focus on managing meetings spend that might be fuelling increased activity. Compliance also appears to be a significant driver of the increased discipline.

Forecast Snapshot

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Hotel consolidation

Over the past few years, the hotel industry has seen significant mergers and acquisitions, with Kimpton and Starwood to name a few. Decision makers should be prepared and thoughtful to ensure they’re well-positioned to navigate and benefit from the changing supplier environment.

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