Athens, Greece’s capital city, ranks first in the top 5 meeting destinations in Europe in the 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, the 11th annual report produced by American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel (GBT).
The top 5 meeting destinations in Europe, based on client data from the American Express Meetings & Events Meetings Insight platform, show that larger, established urban centers are still in high demand.
The 11th edition of the annual industry-staple report is based on a June-July 2021 survey of 500 meetings and events professionals from around the world, and interviews with industry experts. Respondents represent corporations, associations, buyers, and suppliers from five continents and 31 countries.
According to American Express Meetings & Events, the result is a statistically and globally representative snapshot of what to expect in the meetings and events industry in 2022.
Forecast: Optimism and growth in 2022
The annual report signals a return to pre-Covid-19 pandemic numbers in 1-2 years. Meeting professionals say they are feeling more confident and well-equipped to plan high-quality meetings and events and adapt to any ongoing uncertainties.
Meeting professionals in Europe are guardedly optimistic about 2022 – 59 percent had an optimism level of 8 or higher on a scale of 1-10; the lowest of the four regions.
However, 48 percent of European events in 2022 are expected to be in-person-only, the second-highest region after North America.
According to the report, although respondents predict a slower recovery than in other regions, 86 percent are confident that in-person attendee numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels within five years.
The report’s global survey of meetings and events professionals found that two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents believe in-person meeting levels will return to their pre-pandemic numbers within one to two years.
In-person meetings and events are projected to grow in 2022, with 81 percent of events expected to have an in-person element. Another indicator of industry growth is the 64 percent of global meetings and events professionals citing increased budgets for next year.
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.
The forecast finds the value of internal meetings is increasingly recognized by organizations, with internal and training meetings projected to see the largest growth in 2022.
“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, GBT’s Senior Vice President of Value Development and General Manager of Meetings & Events.
Despite the rise of in-person meetings and events, virtual and hybrid formats will continue to play a key role, according to respondents of the global survey. 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.
“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,” Tejado added.