Most meetings industry professionals expect an increase in sector spending in the year ahead, according to the annual Global Meetings and Events Forecast.

The report produced by American Express GBT Meetings & Events indicates 67% of respondents expect increased spending in 2024 with 13% predicting an increase of more than 10%.

The 2024 forecast surveyed more than 500 meetings and events professionals around the world.

Leading the way: Internal meetings are forecast to see the strongest growth among the various meeting types—48% of respondents said they expect more attendees to these meetings in 2024. A desire to rebuild relationships and connect distributed workforces is driving internal meetings growth, according to the report.

Fifty-three percent of respondents expect costs will be among leading meetings challenges in 2024 while 44 percent said budget cuts. At the bottom of the list of challenges for the year ahead were tracking carbon emissions (23%).

Importantly, 28% of respondents said their programs had already met or exceeded pre-pandemic attendance. Forty-two percent expect to reach that milestone in the year ahead

Globally, 28% say programs have already met or exceeded pre-pandemic attendee levels and 42% expect to reach that goal in 2024. But those figures are much higher among North American respondents specifically (read on).

What they're saying: “With more distributed workforces than ever, companies are re-evaluating the importance of internal interactions for team cohesion, productivity, creativity, engagement, and employee welfare,” said Gerardo Tejado, SVP, Professional Services, Amex GBT. “It’s never been clearer that in-person meetings and interactions are irreplaceable, with face-to-face connections and building relationships serving as cornerstones of personal and professional success. Our Forecast indicates that 2024 will be a dynamic year – not only are budgets and attendee numbers rising, but we’re also seeing technology adoption accelerating dramatically.”

Other findings include:

  • 42% of respondents say they expect to use AI in 2024.
  • More than 60% said they are using mobile apps as a staple in meetings and events
  • 78% said their organizations would have net zero goals by the end of 2024.

Bottom line: The vast majority (84%) of North American meeting professionals say they are very optimistic about the health of the industry and 77% say attendee figures have returned to pre-pandemic levels or are likely to do so in the coming year.

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