by Michael J. Shapiro | November 30, 2011

Companies will book more meetings in 2012, according to 60 percent of meeting suppliers surveyed for the American Express Meetings & Events Global Meetings Forecast, which was released Wednesday at EIBTM in Barcelona, Spain. Among planner respondents, 42 percent of North American planners said they are seeing signs of increased activity from their clients. Globally, those numbers grow to 50 percent in Latin America, 51 percent in Europe and 57 percent in Asia. According to the forecast, companies will focus even more on value and cost effectiveness, given anticipated rises in travel and meeting costs. "Even in the face of economic uncertainty, meeting industry stakeholders appear to be cautiously optimistic as they report an increase in services and property demand from clients," noted Issa Jouaneh, vice president and general manager of American Express Meetings & Events. But while the number of meetings is expected to increase, the number of attendees per meeting will decrease, according to 40 percent of suppliers surveyed, as will the number of days per meeting, said one-third of suppliers. One-third of hotel suppliers expected per-meeting budgets to decrease as well, compared with just 7 percent who anticipated budget increases. More than half of suppliers (53 percent) noted that clients are requesting more local meetings, while nearly half (47 percent) said clients have green requests or requirements for their events. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of planner respondents said their clients are showing an increased interest in reporting green measures -- although that interest is not yet significantly affecting property decisions, interestingly enough. With the exception of the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions, suppliers said they are seeing a shift away from meetings in luxury or resort properties. The forecast data was based on actual and planned meetings among clients, as well as surveys of nearly 200 hotel suppliers and meetings professionals around the world and in-depth interviews with regional meetings experts.