American Express GBT Forecast assesses growth rates & drivers for 2024

All meeting types will see growth in the year ahead according to American Express GBT’s 2024 Global Meetings and Events Forecast. But are budgets keeping up with inflation? Mike Fletcher analyses the findings. 

Some 70% of respondents to the latest edition of American Express GBT’s annual trends report say their meeting programmes have now either met or exceeded pre-pandemic attendee levels or are expected to reach that goal in 2024.

As a result, all meeting types assessed by the 2024 Global Meetings and Events Forecast are expected to see growth in 2024, with internal meetings experiencing the largest anticipated rise (as forecast by 42% of respondents) plus the strongest growth in predicted attendee numbers (as cited by 48% of respondents).

Incentive travel programmes are on track to see the second biggest increase, with 38% of respondents saying there will be more next year. This is despite incentives also being the most expensive meeting type, at a predicted $865 (USD) per person, excluding airfares.

Some 35% of respondents predicted rises in the number of conferences with trade shows, while 30% forecasted a rise in standalone conferences without accompanying trade shows.

Small and simple meetings are expected to cost the least in 2024, at $538 per attendee, followed by internal meetings and product launches, at $646 per attendee.

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A mismatch between budgets and inflation

Interviews carried out as part of the 2024 Global Meetings and Events Forecast found that budgets are increasing but not necessarily enough to match inflation.

Survey respondents agree, with 67% stating that their budgets are increasing but only 13% acknowledging that they’ve increased by more than 10%.

In a new question in this year’s survey, respondents were asked whether they had seen any changes in their meeting programmes due to markers of economic uncertainty, such as inflation and budget changes.

Some 44% said they were staging more virtual meetings, 37% cited changes in destinations or lodgings, and 31% said they were hosting fewer events in general. Notably, 13% said they had not seen any changes at all. 

When faced with reduced budgets, meeting planners said they’d first cut the number of nights (22%), then off-site optional activities (14%), before food and beverage and sustainability initiatives (10% each).

If their budgets were increased by 10% in 2024, 25% of meeting planners said they would use the funds to improve the onsite experience and 19% would increase the use of technology. 

Technology is bridging the gap

When respondents were asked which areas of their meeting programmes they are focused on improving, the top three selections were ‘technology updates’ (38%), simplified data collection (18%) and using preferred suppliers (18%).

Technology-based event solutions include enhanced automation, destination research and event communication with 42% of respondents saying they expect to see more AI-driven improvements in 2024.

According to the report, automation of registration and other simple logistics, while not fully in place yet, is expected to progress substantially.

“Small and simple meetings in particular need streamlined automation to make it easier to book smaller events with a single click. Planners need tools in place that allow them to do more with less,” says the report.

Meanwhile, mobile apps continue to be a staple in meetings and events, with a predicted usage rate of 61%.

Meetings professionals need help with sustainability

The 2024 Global Meetings and Events Forecast is based on a survey of more than 500 MICE professionals from 26 countries, as well as in-depth interviews.

According to the findings, 78% of respondents say their organisations are planning to have net zero goals in place by the end of 2024.

Asia Pacific is leading the way with 67% of respondents saying that sustainability has already been strongly adopted in their meetings programmes and 74% saying sustainability is very or extremely important for their organisation.

However, the report also indicates that meeting professionals are looking for help to implement sustainable practices. 

When asked what their biggest challenge was to incorporate sustainability into their MICE programmes, 28% of global respondents said identifying locations with minimal travel.

  • 39% said identifying certified suppliers
  • 32% said measuring event impact and post-event CO2 calculation
  • 23% said lack of skills/resources/knowledge
  • and 35% said budget.

“The sustainability lens needs to be applied to all meetings, not just the big ones,” advises the report. “Large sustainable meetings are great, but if your company also has multiple smaller meetings every year and none of those are sustainable, that’s going to add up.

Planners are encouraged to take advantage of the knowledge and resources of their meeting partners to ensure sustainable practices are scalable and replicable throughout their entire meeting programme.”


The 2024 Global Meetings and Events Forecast will be discussed in more detail on the main stage at IBTM World on Tuesday, November 28th at 14:15. Download the full 2024 Meetings and Events Forecast here.

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