Global meetings and events spend is expected to increase in 2016 for the first time in five years, a study has found.

The American Express Meetings and Events 2016 Forecast showed for the first time since 2010, buyers and planners globally are predicting increases to their overall programme budgets.

European respondents expect a rise of 1.8 per cent in spend – a significant upward turn from the decline of 0.7 per cent predicted for 2015.

The study of around 450 people showed a small upward trend for meetings activity throughout Europe, with more than 20 per cent of Europe-based respondents suggesting a rise in the number of meetings planned for next year.

“As economies across Europe steadily recover, meeting planners are showing signs of optimism, and the 2016 Forecast offers some very good news,” said Issa Jouaneh, senior VP and GM, American Express Meeting & Events.

“Not only are meeting numbers set to increase, but also overall meeting spend is forecast to grow, reversing the trend from 2015 when declining spend was expected,” he added.

European destinations

Respondents identified ‘budget’ as their key consideration in choosing a meeting location (24%), followed by specific location type needed, such as near an airport or training facility (22%).

London was named as the number one city based on M&E activity, followed by Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Frankfurt.

Hotel and air rates

The study predicts slight increases in hotel rates throughout 2016 compared to this year. When it comes to air trends, group air survey respondents predicted rises in both airline capacity and volume across all regions. 

The results showed overall group air rate increases globally, anticipated at 1.9 per cent in 2016. When it comes to intra-regional group air rates, these are highest in Europe in 2016, at 5.5 per cent within Western Europe and 8 per cent within Eastern Europe.

Amex’s Jouaneh added: “As meetings activity increases, compliance and risk issues become even more important. Europe leads the world when it comes to having a formal meetings policy, with 71 per cent of respondents having this in place for their entire organisation.”

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