Incentive Travel Tops Per Attendee Spending for AMEX

2017 American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast

For the last six years, American Express has conducted a world-wide survey of meeting and event professionals in an attempt to uncover the trends that will characterize the meeting and event industry in the upcoming year. They survey thousands of event owners, meeting planners, corporate meeting producers, venue operators, airlines, meeting vendors, and travel professionals around the globe.

Premier Meeting Services studies the survey carefully and produces an extract of the findings. Here is what the industry is predicting for 2017.


  • The number of meetings will likely see a decline in 2017 and overall spending on meetings and events will remain flat. The uncertainty in the U.S. presidential election, the economic slowdown in Canada, Brexit, and world-wide terrorism will all serve to moderate meeting activity in North America and Europe. The collapse of the Brazilian economy and the outbreak of the Zika virus will depress meeting activity in Latin America.
  • Because of a world-wide increase in corporate M&A, internal meetings (trainings and sales meetings) will increase while other types of meetings will decline.
  • The Asia Pacific is the only region that will show an increase in all meeting activity.
  • Rising group air rates and hotel accommodations will serve to increase the cost per attendee in 2017 putting pressure on budgets.


  • The consolidation of hotel space between the large companies suggests that group rates will rise as the ability for certain hotel brands to control pricing may further strengthen. While mergers lead to bigger holdings for suppliers, they do not increase available inventory. In fact, hotel space availability in North America is expected to decline 0.4% in 2017, while planned new hotel openings will drop from 731 in 2016 to 538 in 2017.


  • The employment picture in the meeting and event industry will brighten in 2017.
  • The meeting and event industry is well suited to match the interests of the new generation entering the workforce, providing flexibility, opportunities to travel and work in changing environments, creativity and more.
  • There is an increasing number of university hospitality programs that provide training specifically in the area of meetings and events.


  • The use of technology in meetings and events will increase even more in 2017.
  • Mobile apps, in particular, are being looked at not only as an engagement tool but as a measurement tool as well, providing immediate feedback and deep post-event insight.


• Most meeting and event producers predict that the role of meeting planners will become even more central to the industry. One major corporate executive spoke for the whole industry when he said:

“We are requesting to have a key contact to plan everything, to do the sourcing, identify the location, and handle the planning, with full visibility of the budget and the service.”

• An Asia Pacific executive put it like this:

“Many customers don’t have a good way of planning their budgets. They want to have a meeting, but don’t have a good sense of how much it will cost, as they are still looking at costs in individual categories. They now realize they need to hire a professional to handle this function.”


• Across all regions surveyed, respondents expect to spend the most per attendee on their incentive programs, indicating a willingness to create a truly rewarding experience for top performers.


Although general economic activity is expected to decline for the meeting and event industry in 2017, there are a few areas of opportunity emerging for meeting planners.

  • Our role is increasingly recognized as central to the success of meetings and events.
  • Internal meetings will increase as corporations merge and have to retrain their administrative and sales forces.
  • Incentive travel will be even more important and command a larger share of the budget in 2017.
  • Our labor pool is increasing.

2017 will be a challenging year for the meeting and event industry, but one replete with opportunity for the keen-eyed event planner.

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