New AMEX report signals a return to pre-pandemic numbers for events in 1-2 years

A new global survey of meetings and events professionals found that two-thirds (67%) of respondents believe in-person meeting levels will return to their pre-pandemic numbers within one to two years.

The 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, produced by American Express Meetings & Events, found in-person meetings and events are projected to grow in 2022, with 81 per cent of events expected to have an in-person element. Another indicator of industry growth is the 64 per cent of global meetings and events professionals citing increased budgets for next year.

Meeting professionals in the Asia-Pacific region are fairly positive about the health of the industry in 2022. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) said they would rank their optimism level as 8 or higher on a scale of 1-10, and 58 per cent believe their career options are good to excellent. They expect 81 per cent of 2022 events in the region to include an in-person component. And 62 per cent of respondents in the region expect in-person attendee numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the next one to two years.

However, the industry is neither expecting nor planning a return to business as usual, and instead professionals intend to take lessons learned during the pandemic to improve the value, effectiveness and sustainability of future events.

“While we are all eager to see the pent-up demand for meetings and events fully realized, we recognize that recovery will not be a straight line and we can’t get there by simply repeating what we’ve done in the past,” said Gerardo Tejado, American Express Global Business Travel’s general manager of meetings & events.

“As we look to 2022, we expect the optimism, resourcefulness and innovation we’ve seen in the sector over the past two years lead to a new era of thoughtful, tech-forward, responsible M&E strategies.”

The Forecast finds the value of internal meetings is increasingly recognised by organisations, with internal and training meetings projected to see the largest growth in 2022.

Despite the rise of in-person meetings and events, virtual and hybrid formats will continue to play a key role, according to global survey respondents. Hybrid meeting formats will continue to gain traction as they help expand reach to wider audiences, create a built-in virtual contingency plan, and increase return on investment. An increased number of attendees is expected across all event types and formats.

The environment will be a priority for most meetings and events programs in 2022 with 83 per cent of respondents saying their organisations take sustainability into account when planning meetings and events.

The sustainability practices most cited by respondents were minimising paper usage and applying energy-saving and waste reduction measures for their 2022 meetings.