The global events industry is expected to have optimistic growth prospects for 2018. The driver for this is increased competition in the supply chain for share of the market, consolidation by buyers and increased levels of investment. The findings were laid out in the 2018 Global Meeting and Events Forecast from American Express Meetings & Events

Similar to 2017, event technology is expected to help transform and develop the event industry. The increasing adoption of end to end event management platforms and increased investment in attendee experience is said to be at the forefront of the changes expected in 2018

“Following the shifting sentiment in 2017, next year should be more positive around the world in terms of spend, number of meetings and attendees. Meanwhile, meeting owners are prioritising attendee experience and engagement over scale. As a result, we expect to see shorter, more focused meetings,” states the senior vice president and general manager of American Express Meetings & Events, Issa Jouaneh,

“Economic and geopolitical influences will continue to create uncertainty, but we anticipate ongoing industry resilience and continued focus on successful experiences,”

Survey Highlights: Predicted Percentage of Meetings Per Year by Meeting Type


  North America Europe Central/S. America Asia Pacific
Sales & Marketing 13% 17% 20% 20%
Training 20% 17% 17% 16%
Internal Team Meeting 12% 14% 13% 13%
Product Launch 6% 9% 11% 9%
Conferences & Tradeshows 23% 20% 10% 17%
Senior Leadership Board Meetings 12% 11% 10% 13%
Advisory 8% 11% 9% 7%
Incentives 11% 9% 12% 10%


North America

The meetings industry in North America is particularly optimistic about growth opportunities. Overall, the amount of money spent is expected to rise,  with increasing regional air fares, hotel rates and despite global budget constraints. Reflecting global sentiment, the key focus for meetings planners and owners will be prioritizing the attendee experience. Cost per attendee expected to increase across most meeting types, and survey respondents indicate that investments will be dedicated to improving content and production and boosting attendance numbers. While activity levels between meeting types tend to be similar across the U.S. and Canada, respondents expect boosts in advisory and incentive meetings in Canada equaling 20% of total meetings, while in the US they remain at 10%.


In Europe, geopolitical uncertainty has led to country-specific variations in industry confidence. The United Kingdom (U.K.), Belgium and the Netherlands express the most optimism across several indicators. Respondents in the U.K. and Poland anticipate an increased in the amount of money spent on meetings, while those in other European countries predict decreasing or flat activity in 2018. With the exception of the U.K., European countries expect to spend less on attendees than the previous year. Cuts in meeting length and optional activities to compensate for rate increases will be sought across all regions. Europe stands out among other regions as countries consistently predict shorter meetings.

Asia Pacific

In Asia Pacific, Australia anticipates robust growth; the Forecast predicts an increase in both the amount of money spent on meetings and the number of attendees. Elsewhere, other countries have expressed reservations. The combined rise of hotel rates and falling meetings activities have led to budget constraints and the predicted increase in cost per attendee. For the year ahead, respondents indicated basic meetings management and support would be prioritized to better control meetings investment and showcase value.

Central & South America

In Central & South America, industry growth is expected to be modest across most categories. Local governments and companies have been instrumental in promoting the region as a meetings destination, and regional meetings professionals predict increases in both meeting duration and attendance. Mexico and Colombia are becoming increasingly popular, but both face challenges with rising hotel rates and limited supply for large groups.


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