European meetings budgets are expected to remain flat for 2017, according to the American Express Meetings and Events report.

The annual study found spend next year will be similar to 2016, but overall activity including number of meetings or number of attendees per meeting may see a decline.

The report found that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union hasn’t had an effect on budgets but has caused businesses to act with more caution. The study showed that as Europe faces its share of “global political and economic uncertainty”, activity will shift in terms of numbers, size and length.

Now in its sixth year, the forecast found that, when it comes to meeting numbers in Europe, there’s a shift away from the upward trend of the last two years, with survey respondents expecting overall decreases in the number of meetings across most meeting types for 2017. 

Issa Jouaneh, senior VP and general manager, American Express Meetings and Events, said: “Throughout Europe, the focus on strategically managing meetings has risen in importance within organisations. Some of this attention is the result of globalisation, however, even within global programs, it is important for organisations to permit flexibility in local countries to match culture and compliant business practices.

“Europe also has its share of uncertainty, with the influence of Brexit and concerns over acts of terrorism. These events have resulted in a sense of caution across the region,” he added.

UK respondents expect a decrease in several meeting types, such as incentive and special events and senior leadership meetings, while respondents from Germany and France have more optimistic outlook, anticipating increases in internal meeting activity. Internal meetings and training meetings top the list of meetings type activity in nearly all countries.

American Express Meetings and Events EMEA VP, Jose Antonio Ruiz Collado, said: “Even as budgets remain flat, European meetings professionals are demonstrating their creativity in delivering the greatest possible value from meetings activity. Second-tier cities and unique venues are growing in popularity, as are smaller meetings, held closer to home. This points to a trend for 2017 of European meetings professionals focusing on quality over quantity.”

The study also showed that while there is growing interest in second-tier cities such as Dublin and Prague, large cities continue to dominate across Europe: respondents expect at least 79 per cent of meetings to take place in large cities, although several countries are anticipating decreases in large city meetings.

UK predictions for 2016 had suggested that 100 per cent of meetings would be held in large cities. Respondents from the UK in this year’s survey predict this number will decrease to 81 per cent in 2017.

Top 10 European cities based on Meetings & Events activity

Based on the activity of American Express Meetings & Events customers, the list of top 10 European cities has seen some change and welcomes several newcomers. Although London retained its top position, Barcelona (previously ranked eighth) has taken over Paris’s spot in second place, as the French city falls to fourth position. Berlin has moved up from the tenth spot to fifth place while Munich, Copenhagen and Riga have been replaced by Rome, Madrid and Prague.

1.     London

2.     Barcelona

3.     Amsterdam

4.     Paris

5.     Berlin

6.     Rome

7.     Frankfurt

8.     Madrid

9.     Brussels

10.  Prague

Read the full report

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