Internal And Customer Meetings Are Expected to Propel Growth For Global Events Industry in 2024, According to AmEx Forecast

October 20, 2023
corporate meetings

Internal meetings are predicted to be a driving force behind the meetings and events industry’s growth in 2024, as organizations focus on building relationships and achieving objectives within their dispersed workforces, according to the 13th Annual Global Meetings and Events Forecast, produced by American Express GBT Meetings & Events.

 The 2024 Forecast, a result of surveys of more than 500 global meetings and events professionals and insights from industry leaders conducted in June and July 2023, reveals several key trends and expectations for next year. 

Highlights include: 

·      48% of respondents predict more attendees in 2024

·      67% of respondents report increasing budgets for corporate meetings and events

·      82% express optimism about the industry’s health, marking a rise from 77% the previous year

·      28% say their programs have already exceeded pre-pandemic attendee levels, with 42% anticipating achieving this goal in 2024

·      72% of meeting planners foresee lead times remaining the same or shortening in 2024

·      Only 25% indicated the likelihood of seeking new employment, with more than 65% intending to stay within the industry, underscoring that meeting professionals feel positive about the industry’s future

“With more distributed workforces than ever, companies are re-evaluating the importance of internal interactions for team cohesion, productivity, creativity, engagement and employee welfare,” said Gerardo Tejado, senior vice president, professional services, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), a B2B travel platform. “It’s never been clearer that in-person meetings and interactions are irreplaceable, with face-to-face connections and building relationships serving as cornerstones of personal and professional success.”

He added, “Our forecast indicates that 2024 will be a dynamic year – not only are budgets and attendee numbers rising, but we’re also seeing technology adoption accelerating dramatically.”

At the 2023 IMEX America in Las Vegas, we caught up in-person with Linda McNairy, global vice president, strategic meetings at American Express Meetings & Events, to get her take on the top trends and insights into the survey data.

“Being face to face makes a big difference, and corporations are seeing that and they're investing in meetings,” said McNairy. “The top two categories in terms of anticipated meetings for 2024 are internal meetings and customer meetings. It speaks 100 percent to that relationship building and driving business forward.”

Listen to our full conversation:

Video file

Distributed Workforce Models Accelerate In-Person Meetings

A majority of respondents said meetings and events in 2024 would be either entirely in-person (59%) or hybrid (20%), with the remaining 21% virtual. With many organizations embracing hybrid and remote working models, the role of meetings and events in bringing distributed teams together is amplified and the value of face-to-face interactions continues to grow, according to the forecast. 

Additionally, internal meetings and customer advisory boards are on track to see the biggest surge, with 42% anticipating more of both types of meetings next year, followed by incentives (38%), small meetings (37%), product launches (37%), senior leadership meetings (37%), conferences with trade shows (35%) and conferences without trade shows (30%).

According Amex GBT’s Hotel Monitor 2024, hotel rates will likely continue to rise in most locations globally during 2024, with meetings and events expected to compensate for reduced leisure travel demand.

A Global View: Regional Insights 

The Forecast also pointed to regional differences in what the industry can expect in 2024.

North America: Meeting professionals in North America said they are heading into 2024 “feeling busy, engaged and excited about new technologies.” Many expressed high optimism (84%) about the health of the industry, and 77% said attendee numbers have already returned to 2019 levels or will do so in 2024. The factors most likely to impact attendee numbers are cost, and health and safety concerns.

Europe: European meeting professionals expect modest increases in activity next year compared to respondents in North America and Latin America. Internal meetings will continue to play an important role in European meeting programs. Respondents said 52% will be held at a hotel, 48% will require overnight accommodations and 46% will be held in a different city than the corporate office. This region has the lowest percentage of expected domestic air travel for attendees, at 33%.

Asia Pacific: Asia Pacific is leading the way with organizations that have already set corporate net zero goals – at 63%. Some 67% of respondents in Asia Pacific said that sustainability has been strongly adopted in their meetings programs while 74% said sustainability is very or extremely important for their organization.

Latin America: Meeting professionals expect hotel room availability to stay the same in 2024 and 2025, and they anticipate more meeting space availability. Location availability was a concern for almost half (48%) of respondents.

Technology: Bridging Gaps and Enabling Growth

Technology is expected to make major changes in the way meeting professionals do their jobs, including destination research, event communication and registration automation, according to the forecast.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly used for personalized attendee communications, with 42% of respondents saying they expect to use AI in 2024. Mobile apps continue to be a meetings and events staple, with a predicted usage rate of more than 60%. Meeting professionals are also continuing to experiment with virtual reality, with 41% planning to explore these technologies in 2024.

“Meeting planners must harness the available tools effectively by using technology for task automation, revising meeting program policies to accelerate budget approvals and integrating business and meetings travel,” Tejado said.

Sustainability Adoption is Rising, but Barriers Remain

A significant number of meeting professionals (78%) said their organizations aimed to establish net zero goals by the end of 2024. However, challenges hindering event sustainability progress include finding certified suppliers (39%), budget constraints (35%), impact measurement and post-event CO2 calculation (32%), finding locations with minimal travel (28%) and a lack of skills, knowledge and resources (23%).

Methodology

Based on a survey of more than 500 meetings and events professionals from around the world, as well as in-depth interviews with over a dozen industry leaders, the 2024 Forecast offers a comprehensive and statistically significant overview of the industry in 2024. Survey and interview respondents represent corporations, associations, buyers and suppliers from five continents and 26 countries. 

Download the full 2024 Meetings and Events Forecast here.

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