by M&C Staff | December 01, 2015

The meetings industry is thriving and will continue to strengthen, according to American Express Meetings & Events. "For the first time, we saw optimistic responses that point to growth across nearly every indicator studied," said senior vice president and general manager Issa Jouaneh in the 2016 Global Meetings & Events Forecast.

Among the factors noted in the latest edition of the annual Amex report:

 Meeting spend is rising globally, led by the Asia Pacific region with a 2.1 percent expected increase, and followed by a 1.9 percent rise in North America. Supplier rate hikes are a big reason, with hotels enjoying record performance and airplanes packed.

Michael Dominguez
MGM Resorts International

 • As the seller's market continues, planners will continue to stretch their budget dollars and work with what is available. "We're seeing a lot more flexibility from the meeting professional when it comes to day, pattern, even week," notes Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer for Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International. "The more options you can bring to the table, the more success you have in the short term."

 Planner flexibility is essential, asserts Carlson Wagonlit Travel Meetings & Events in its 2016 Meetings & Events Forecast, because hotels continue to become less so. In attrition and cancellation clauses, for instance, flexibility has been significantly reduced and even removed, notes the forecast, both in terms of rooms and food-and-beverage minimums. In major cities with large airports, CWT is seeing initial attrition-clause offers in the 10 to 15 percent range, a drop from the traditional 20 to 25 percent. And hotels are less likely to hold space per availability requests: Planners find themselves in the position of booking it or losing it.

 With availability becoming more scarce, lead times continue to grow. "You won't find something 90 or 120 days out, like you could for three to five years," says Dominguez.

Following is M&C's prognosis for key industry segments in 2016. (For related video interviews, head here.)