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by Michael J. Shapiro | October 17, 2016
While overall spend on corporate meetings programs next year appears as though it will be similar to 2016, the number of meetings and their size could potentially decline worldwide, according to the 2017 Global Meetings and Events Forecast from American Express. The forecast, released today, examines challenges and trends by region.
 
In North America, survey respondents predict meetings spend will be flat, with less than 1 percent change to the overall budget. American Express Meetings & Events speculates that the upcoming U.S. presidential election and economic slowdown in Canada could be preventing an increase. Despite that, organizational growth and a good deal of activity around mergers and acquisitions indicate a likely increase in the number of training and internal meetings. Group hotel rates are expected to rise by 3.7 percent, and group air by 3.4 percent.
 
In Europe, a sense of caution pervades predictions, driven by the fallout from Great Britain's decision to pull out of the European Union and continued terrorist threats. Strategic meetings management continues to increase in popularity in the region, according to the report, with a greater amount of flexibility being built in to global programs to allow for local culture and business practices. The forecast calls for a 1.8 percent increase in group hotel rates, and a 1.4 percent rise in group air rates in Europe.
 
Despite economic and political challenges faced by Brazil, the giant in Latin America, the report forecasts an overall budget increase of about 1.1 percent for Central and South America. Amex M&E sees many organizations prioritizing the region when it comes to globalizing their meetings business. Group air rates are expected rise more steeply than group hotel rates in the region, with increases of 4.3 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.
 
In the Asia Pacific region, greater interest in compliance and managing meetings spend could be responsible for increased meetings activity. As in Central and South America, group air-rate growth is expected to eclipse that of group hotel costs. The forecast calls for a 3.7 percent increase to group air and just a 1.2 percent rise in group hotel rates.
 
Additional areas of focus in the forecast, which can be downloaded here, include hotel consolidation, duty of care, and the future of talent in meetings and events.