The meetings industry can expect a robust 2017. According the annual American Express (AMEX) Meetings and Events 2017 Forecast, general corporate meetings and event attendance is on track to increase by 3%. Measuring the industry’s overall performance, the AMEX report showed it had its 21st straight quarter of growth.


The most frequent meetings being planned are: #1) Training, #2) Internal Team Meetings, #3) Sales & Marketing Events, #4) Conferences and #5) Board Meetings. While budget growth is predicted to be conservative, the improving economy will mean more meetings.


Here are the new industry factors that the AMEX Forecast says planners will have to consider in 2017.


Shorter Lead Time  

Lead times for venue contracts and registration and are starting to shrink.  Planners have to work harder to convince their clients to commit to events farther ahead.  Planners surveyed said the average lead time was 18 weeks in North America (vs. only 7 weeks in Europe.)  By increasing lead time for larger events, planners can increase their negotiating power. Decide if you can be flexible on dates. Having flexibility will be key leverage in planning long term.


Meetings Must Be Experiences

The demand for experiential meetings has gone through the roof according to two-thirds of AMEX responses. An important part of bringing people together is building relationships. It ranked as the #1 trend for planners for 2017 “in order to create effective meetings.”


Respondents listed everything from education sessions in unique locations, lounges with music, team building exercises, and themed parties as ways to add experiential value. More companies are looking at integrated value when it comes to their programs to ensure it’s an impactful event and attendees leave with a positive memory.


Dedicated Mobile App

Mobile meeting and convention apps should now be the new standard. Mobile apps improve engagement by 29 percent, improve communications by 27 percent, and ease schedule changes or disseminating emergency information by 15 percent. However AMEX forecast found only 8 percent of companies use them to measure overall event effectiveness. The insight that planners draw from their app data is key.


By using event-management software to help find and organize app data, savvy planners can use it to make smarter decisions.  According to the forecast results, “Modern smartphones have an array of sensors. When combined with mobile events apps, they can provide a goldmine of information about participants’ likes, dislike, interests, movements, and more that can be used to improve future events and to provide customized marketing content based on the participants’ individual needs.”