American Express Meetings & Events recently published their 76-page report forecasting “Signs of Stability” as we move through 2014. Below are four trends they garnered from in-depth interviews with planners and suppliers around the world. Today's blog is focused on North American trends. For more information about the rest of the world, please download their entire report.  

Trend #1: No Increase or Decrease in Overall Meeting Spend and Individual Meeting Budgets

The overall meeting spend predictions are as follows: 

  • 37% of the respondents said budgets would stay the same
  • 26% stated the budget would decrease by 1-5%
  • 25% stated the budget would increase by 1-5%  

The only change to this figure is expected to be in the area of interactive technology tool rentals which are expected to allow for easy registration and provide online payment solutions. 

The individual meeting budget predictions are: 

  • 41% of the budgets would stay the same
  • 29% would decrease 1-5% 
  • 20% would increase 1-5% 

Trend #2: Large Cities Rule. 

According to survey participants: 

  • 74% primarily book their meetings in large city locations
  • 19% primarily book in second-tier cities and 
  • 7% primarily book in resorts or suburban areas

According to Cvent, the 10 cites with the most meeting and event activity are the following (in descending order), 

  1. Orlando 
  2. Chicago
  3. Las Vegas
  4. Atlanta 
  5. San Diego
  6. New York
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Dallas
  9. Miami
  10. Phoenix

The interesting thing about this data is seven cities are in the south with two of them being in Florida. (SmartSource Rentals has branch locations in all of these cities with the exception of Miami.) 

Trend #3: Lead Times for Meetings are Going to Get Slightly Shorter. 

Here is what participants shared: 

  • 42% said lead times would stay the same
  • 18% said lead times would decrease by 1-5% 
  • 16% said lead times would decrease by 6-10% 

With most lead times already being 60 days or shorter, this is not a good indicator. When considering all the factors that go into planning a meeting — space, food, speakers and renting audio visual equipment — shorter is not always better. Ironically, short lead times can causes budget increases due to limited supplier inventory at your desired location. 

Trend #4: Use of Social Media will Increase.

This is no surprise, but in North America, social media use is expected to increase by 4% over last year. According to a May 2013 Pew Research report, 72% of US Adults are on at least one social channel. And according to Google, 55% of social users are updating their status on their smartphones.  

So don't fight social any longer because it is here to stay! And to better prepared for it, rent iPads and have a Wi-Fi network array rental unit available to provide attendees with social and the bandwidth to make postings interactive and easy. 

"Meeting organizers are looking to utilize social media tools to create higher quality and more engaging programs that better meet the needs of attendees," stated Issa Jouaneh, Vice President & General Manager of American Express. 

SmartSource Rentals is your total technology provider and is here to help at your next meeting or event. Give them a call at 800.886.8686 to get the process started!