by Matt Alderton | October 14, 2015
In its "2016 Global Meetings Forecast," American Express Meetings & Events focused on three topics that it said should be top of mind for meeting and event planners in 2016:

Compliance Considerations
"Regulatory compliance remains a critical issue for corporations across the globe with meetings operations as one area where the potential risks and penalties can be significant," AmEx said. "Specifically, government regulators have increased their focus on individual accountability and corporate officers' conduct with non-compliance resulting in significant consequences for both corporations and individuals. Within the meetings and events space, the highest risk of non-compliance is typically related to meeting payments, expenses and records, handling of personal information and attendee selection. To mitigate such risks, organizations must establish appropriate internal controls throughout their areas of operations to avoid potential improper risk. One way of doing so is by requiring onsite personnel to ensure accurate attendance and facilitate greater transparency with meetings."
Incentive Programs and Events
"Millennials continue to play a significant role in shaping the incentive travel space today. As a result, some companies have recognized the importance of engaging with these employees and have designed and executed specific programs aimed to motivate, recognize, and reward Millennial travelers through immersive and cultural experiences," AmEx reported. "Choice and personalization are key themes in designing travel experiences that inspire and motivate this large segment of the workforce … The Forecast explores five key components of any incentive trip, including destination selection, property selection, food and beverage, entertainment, and gifts."
Mobile Apps and Event Technology
"As the role of technology and mobile apps continues to rise among meetings professionals, the forecast … examines how these technologies are evolving and how meeting planners can maximize their use to achieve desired outcomes, including increased attendee engagement and greater event effectiveness," AmEx said. "In today's digital age, meeting owners have an opportunity to capitalize on attendees' desire for this type of technology through digital solutions and mobile applications."
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Combined with positive economic trends, companies' continued global expansion promises good tidings for the meetings industry, according to American Express Meetings & Events, which yesterday published its "2016 Global Meetings Forecast." In it, the company predicts increases in the number of meetings and in overall meeting budgets in all regions of the world as organizations continue to leverage face-to-face collaboration to drive business growth.

"The resurgence of meetings and events over the past few years has allowed meetings professionals to demonstrate the strong value that face-to-face meetings continue to offer globally," said Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager, American Express Meetings & Events. "Our customers recognize this value of interaction and seek opportunities to engage, reward, and build meaningful experiences for meetings professionals through their managed programs."

In North America, American Express Meetings & Events notes several key trends, including:

More training meetings:
Companies are expected to hold more training and internal meetings than any other type of meeting next year. As a result of recent economic growth, companies also are renewing their focus on employee-centric meetings by planning a greater number of incentive meetings and special events.

Increased attendance:
As the number of meetings is predicted to increase, attendee levels in North America are also expected to trend upwards. However, meeting planners are also implementing processes to ensure the right audiences are in attendance to further maximize their returns on their meetings investments and increase compliance.

Higher spending:
Although the length of meetings is predicted to remain largely unchanged in 2016, overall program spend is expected to rise, marking the largest forecasted spend increase in three years. A 4.2 percent increase in hotel costs is partly to blame, suggests American Express Meetings & Events, which said budgets remain tightly controlled even amid increased spending.

Orlando rises:
The most popular meeting destinations are Orlando, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Atlanta. Last year, Chicago was No. 1 and Orlando was No. 2.

The complete "2016 Global Meetings Forecast," including regional findings from Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, is available for download from the American Express Meetings & Events website.