European and UK industry to do more with less in 2015

As PM David Cameron warns of ‘red lights’ going on for the global economy in 2015, it seems, after a 2014 which greenlighted meetings spend after years of austerity, UK planners will be seeing amber in 2015 if findings from an American Express Meetings & Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast (‘the Forecast’) are a reliable guide.

Creativity within budget constraints is expected to combat tighter budgets and increased costs for UK meeting planners, according to the Forecast which predicts UK meeting planners, like their European counterparts, will need to be thrifty and do more with less in the coming year.

Despite a predicted modest average increase of 1.2 per cent in meeting numbers, overall meeting spend, individual meeting budgets and attendee numbers are expected to decline in the UK, the Forecast finds.

UK budgets are set to decrease by 0.7 per cent and overall meeting spend is predicted to decline by 1.1 per cent. This is in sharp contrast to the 4.8 per cent increase in meeting spend that was predicted for 2014.

After a 4.5 per cent increase in the number of meetings in 2014, the Forecast believes the UK will enjoy only small increases across all meeting types in 2015.

Advisory board meetings are expected to see the highest increase, growing by 3.3 per cent, while attendee numbers for this meeting type are expected to grow by 1 per cent.

Attendees of most other meetings, including sales and marketing, internal team meetings and conferences, are expected to see small declines of 1.6 per cent, 0.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.

“Meeting planners in the UK will have to make the most of squeezed budgets next year. While the UK economy is improving, meetings activity is set to be more subdued in 2015, with only a small increase over the number predicted for 2014,” says Lisa Thompson, Director, UK, American Express Meetings & Events.

“Reductions in individual budget and overall spend in the UK are predicted, so meeting owners are feeling the pressure to get creative and extract maximum value from their meeting budgets. Planners are expected to deliver the same quality of experience as in previous years, despite group hotel and group air rates continuing to rise,” she adds.

The Forecast predicts group hotel rates to rise across Europe, with the highest increase of 2.8 per cent predicted in the UK. Despite this, London remains the top European meetings destination, followed by Paris and Barcelona.

The Forecast finds some companies from the UK are organising more meetings in the European Union, in part to boost participation from Central European attendees without pushing travel costs too high. There is also a trend towards holding meetings at airport locations, driven by the mandate to keep meetings short and maximise the productive time available for attendees.

Thompson adds: “Meetings globally and in the UK play a critical role in a return to business fundamentals in 2015, a trend which should help drive the long-term health of the industry. This is due to powerful drivers, such as compliance, global expansion, and standardised processes that can help to reduce risk and elevate the visibility and strategic importance of meetings programmes within companies.”
The 2015 Forecast was produced using sources, including proprietary American Express Meetings & Events data, licensed third-party data and industry information. Surveys of meeting professionals were conducted via Cvent’s proprietary web survey software to gather trends across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Central/South America. Results of a survey of leading hotel suppliers and follow-up interviews was also incorporated in this Forecast.
Pictured: Issa Jouaneh, VP and GM, AMEX M&E.
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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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