Research What’s in store for 2018? American Express Meetings & Events shines a spotlight on trends predicted to sweep the industry in 2018, with continental differences likely. he meetings industry can be optimistic about growth prospects next year, driven by increased competition in the supply chain for market share, and robust investments and a desire for consolidation of spend by buyers, according to 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast from American Express Meetings & Events. Across the globe, the continued localisation of meetings programmes will be a key trend in 2018, as meetings professionals seek to add flexibility and nuance to offerings that address specific market needs and drive programme adoption. The link between compliance and security in today’s geopolitical landscape is another area of focus, with a special section on compliance challenges and risks associated with corporate meetings in China. Technology is expected to continue its transformation of meetings and events in 2018, particularly on the end-to-end management of delivery and attendee experience. The potential of emerging technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and the on-going development of mobile app and hybrid-meeting solutions are creating innovation and value add opportunities for both meeting owners and attendees. Issa Jouaneh, senior vice-president and general manager, American 64 / Conference & Meetings World / owners are prioritising attendee experience and engagement over scale. As a result, we expect to see shorter, more focused meetings.” However, Jouaneh warns that uncertainty remains an issue, adding: “Economic and geopolitical influences will continue to create uncertainty, but we anticipate on-going industry resilience and continued focus on successful experiences.” So what, then, will the meetings landscape look like around the world in 2018? Express Meetings & Events forecasts that attendee experience will become a key focus next year. He said: “Following the shifting sentiment in 2017, next year should be more positive around the world in terms of spend, number of meetings and attendees. Meanwhile, meeting ISS U E 9 1 North America The meetings industry in North America is particularly optimistic about growth opportunities. Overall, the amount of money spent is expected to rise, with increasing regional airfares and hotel rates, all despite global budget constraints. Reflecting global sentiment, the key focus for meetings planners and owners will be prioritising the attendee experience. Cost per attendee is expected to increase across most meeting types, and respondents indicate that investments will aim to improve content and production and boost attendance numbers. While activity levels between meeting types tend to be similar across the US and Canada, respondents expect boosts in advisory and incentive meetings in Canada equalling 20% of total meetings, while in the US they remain at 10%.