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Despite stalled growth in China, Brazil and Russia, a wave of newly middle-class travelers from the BRICs and beyond will start visiting international destinations in the coming decades — dwarfing the numbers we’ve seen thus far.
High room rates and airfares are expected to increase worldwide, but only Asia’s growing business economy is expected to take the price hikes in stride and continue growing meeting opportunities.
Businesses are trying to find a way to continue hosting meetings and events key to their development despite increased costs and more austere budgets; however, growth is not ubiquitous in every global region.
Asia Pacific is expected to see the strongest growth with a 6.4 percent increase in meetings and 4.2 percent increase in overall spending, reports the American Express Meetings & Events 2013 Meetings Forecast.
Overall meeting spend is expected to decrease by 6 percent in Europe, 3.5 percent in Central/South America, and 1 percent in North America. The number of meetings is expected to fall by 2.3 percent in Europe, 1.1 percent in Central/South America, and remain flat in North America.
The purpose of meetings, attendees, and amount of spending on each meeting has come under tighter scrutiny since businesses starting cutting back their budgets. Meeting planners report that it is more difficult to gain management approval for meetings, which hinders their ability to negotiate hotel rates with little notice.
One of the top emerging trends is a shift to more local meetings to cut costs on group hotel rates and airfare. The average group rates for airfare and hotels are expected to increase in all four regions, except for stagnant hotel rates in Europe.
Social media increases meeting impact
Businesses are leveraging social media to engage attendees before and after an actual event so although meetings may be shorter or held locally, their reach may actually be broader than previous years. Platforms are also being used during the event to encourage questions and discussions.
Few corporations have replaced live interactions with virtual meetings, although it has been adopted on smaller scale for communications within a business.