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Asia has opened up again, but higher travel costs for in-person meetings and maybe fewer remote workers are stifling that need for human contact. Zoom it is, at least through 2023.

A new meetings forecast describes how “virtual fatigue” has mostly set in across the globe. Still,  in some parts of the world, it’s more about “virtual resilience.”

A higher proportion of companies in the Asia Pacific region are set to retain virtual and hybrid meetings and events in 2023 compared to other regions, despite many countries easing their travel restrictions.

Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) in Asia Pacific in a survey carried out by American Express Global Business Travel’s meetings division said they expected meetings to be hybrid. That compares to 41 percent in Latin America, 33 percent in Europe, and 29 percent in North America — a region that’s seeing a stronger than expected rebound.

In-person meetings in Asia Pacific will be the priciest too, states the 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast. An internal meeting is expected to be $711 per attendee per day, while in North America it’s expected to cost $554 per attendee per day. A small and simple meeting in Europe is expected to cost $427 per attendee per day, compared to $565 in Asia Pacific.

Caution is understandable, considering stricter rules on travel and mass gatherings in certain countries. But countries like Australia and New Zealand managed to reopen their borders relatively early on, while more recently Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan have pulled back most of their travel restrictions.

And respondents in the region are also cautious predicting when in-person attendee numbers will return to 2019 levels: just 61 percent said it will happen in the next one to two years, and 36 percent in the next three to five years.

Small, Simple Meetings Surpass 2019 Levels

It’s a different picture in North America, with Amex GBT’s meetings division seeing the number of “internal and small and simple meetings” rebound strongly.

“This has been true within our Meetings & Events business,” said Gerardo Tejado, senior vice president, global value development and general manager, Meetings & Events at Amex GBT. “We have seen the number of meetings during certain months and locations exceed 2019 levels, and our clients’ small and simple meetings have increased by 25 percent.”

North America was also the region with the highest percentage of completely remote workforces, based on the respondents details.

There were 500 respondents in the annual report, representing corporations, associations, buyers, and suppliers from five continents and 23 countries.

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Tags: american express global business travel, asia, business travel, covid-19, hong kong, meetings and events

Photo credit: Nearly half of respondents in Asia Pacific (47 percent) in a survey carried out by American Express Global Business Travel’s meetings division said they expected meetings to be hybrid. Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

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