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Meetings buyers have been warned to make the most of “squeezed” budgets next year as overall MICE spend is expected to decline, according to the American Express Meetings and Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast.
The study published today shows despite a predicted increase of 1.2 per cent in meeting numbers, overall spend as well as individual budget and attendee numbers are all expected to fall next year.
UK budgets are set to decrease slightly by 0.7 per cent and overall meeting spend is predicted to decline by 1.1 per cent. This is in sharp contrast to the 4.8 per cent increase in meeting spend that was predicted for 2014.
According to the study, after a projected 4.5 per cent increase in the number of meetings in 2014, the UK is expected to enjoy only small increases across all meeting types in 2015.
Advisory board meetings are expected to see the highest increase, growing by 3.3 per cent, while attendee numbers for this meeting type are expected to grow by 1 per cent. Attendees of most other meetings, including sales and marketing, internal team meetings and conferences, are expected to see small declines of 1.6 per cent, 0.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.
“Meeting planners in the UK will have to make the most of squeezed budgets next year,” said Lisa Thompson, director, UK, AMEX meetings and events.
“While the UK economy is improving, meetings activity is set to be more subdued in 2015, with only a small increase over the number predicted for 2014.”
Thompson said despite the decline planners will still be expected to deliver the same quality of experience as in previous years.
“Reductions in individual budget and overall spend in the UK are predicted, so meeting owners are feeling the pressure to get creative and extract maximum value from their meeting budgets,” she added.
AMEX meetings and events said some companies from the UK are organising more meetings in the European Union, in part to boost participation from central European attendees without pushing travel costs too high.
There is also a trend towards holding meetings at airport locations, driven by the mandate to keep meetings short and maximise the productive time available for attendees.
The study found that virtual meetings are yet to “capture the hearts of meetings owners” in Europe with 15 per cent of those surveyed citing that virtual and hybrid meetings are “not viable alternatives to live meetings”.
The study found some European companies are pursuing regional meetings rather than hold large events that draw attendees globally. European planners cited “perception around resort destinations” as being an area of concern and a 1.6 per cent increase in the use of non-traditional meetings facilities is predicted for 2015.
The economic crisis appears to have provided a “silver lining” for some city destinations, the study showed - with southern European cities which were hit hard by the downturn, such as Madrid, Athens and Rome, becoming more attractive to meeting owners looking for lower rates.
AMEX meetings and events is a subsidiary of American Express Global Business Travel.