JAPA Meetings director, American Express Meetings & Events

Expect continued growth in the region in 2013.

While corporate meeting planners anticipate that meetings activity will vary by region in 2013, Asia Pacific is expected to see the strongest growth in both spending and the number of meetings held. As Asia’s economy is still relatively strong, meeting planners are the most optimistic globally about meetings activity in 2013. Organisations are not only forecasting meetings activity growth, but Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan are being cited as likely popular meetings destinations for 2013.
According to the American Express Meetings & Events 2013 Global Meetings Forecast, two-thirds of respondents in the region expect meeting activity per organisation to increase, and of those, over 40 per cent see increases of 6 per cent or more occurring. Overall, the survey results indicate an expected 6.4 per cent increase in the average number of meetings in the region in 2013.
However, as meeting activity continues to increase across the globe, lead times are predicted to decline as companies will likely take longer to approve meeting expenses. The declines are expected to be greatest in Europe and Asia Pacific and much smaller in North America and Central/South America.

Global meeting trends in 2013

Despite a focus on meetings growth in the Asia Pacific region, meeting planners cite various challenges that will be common across all markets in the year ahead:

  • Budget challenges mean more local meetings: To maintain current levels of meetings activity in an environment where budgets are likely not growing in step with costs, many companies are transitioning from global to national or from national to regional locations for more meetings. Also, there is a trend of holding meetings in unique destinations such as restaurants or aquariums for potential additional savings.
  • Security and stability impacting destination choice: A continued emphasis on duty of care is translating to a focus on safety and security amidst potential political instability when planning a meeting in 2013. Suppliers indicated that this can be an advantage or disadvantage for them. Some major hotel brands located in regions with political instability said they are often chosen based on the perception amongst meeting planners that they offer a more consistent, higher level of security.
  • Meeting approvals becoming more challenging: A significant portion of meeting planners in all regions indicated that gaining approvals for their meetings is becoming at least slightly more difficult. In addition, there is an emerging trend of meeting budgets not being approved until companies’ latest financial data is available. This dynamic is putting even more pressure on already reduced lead times and can negatively impact hotel negotiations, potentially leading to higher costs.
  • Increasing engagement via social media: Meeting planners are responding to the expectations of today’s meeting attendees by employing social media to increase the value of events throughout their lifecycle. Leading up to events, planners are using social media to connect with attendees and to connect attendees to one another so they can maximise their time at the event. During events, social media is being used to drive even deeper connections and more immersive education sessions, presentation Q&A and other activities. After events, social media is also being used to extend event communities and foster connections made during events.

Organisations will continue to look for ways to maximise new business and productivity. Well-organised meetings and events with well-defined objectives and a clear return on investment can help nurture existing client relationships as well as develop new business leads. It is therefore no surprise we expect growth in the region to continue.

Email Danielle Puceta on Danielle_e_puceta@aexp.com or visit www.americanexpress.com/businesstravel