2018 Meetings and Incentives Forecast: Sunny and Hot!

November 1, 2017 Kevin Edmunds


Each year, American Express’ Global Business Travel division puts out a comprehensive Global Meetings & Events Forecast for the following year so that planners and hoteliers alike can benchmark their own business activity against the industry averages and trends. The 2018 report was released by American Express in late October, and there is some really positive industry data in it. In fact, the word “thriving” is used in the very first sentence of the report to describe the state of the meetings and event market.

Here are some stats that show this market’s strength: For 2018, respondents say that the average program will have a one percent rise in budget; the length of the typical program will be slightly longer; and nearly all events will have a slightly larger attendance—including incentive programs. Those trends all make sense given the strength of the American economy in recent months: The U.S. gross domestic product for the third quarter of 2017 grew much more strongly than expected versus the same period one year ago.

At our AIC Hotel Group properties located on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Mexico, in the Dominican Republic, and in Miami Beach, we clearly see the strong momentum that the meetings and incentive market has had for at least three years now. However, that doesn’t mean that we can simply roll out the welcome carpet and wave to the meeting and incentive groups as they come into our properties.

That’s because the AmEx report also cited that groups want a strong localization factor within their events, which means that the staff at host properties must coordinate with planners to give attendees a memorable experience that is specific to the destination. At AIC Hotel Group, we educate our sales and service staffs on how to ask planners the right questions in order to match up the preferences of their group with the most relevant and exciting culinary, artistic and entertainment offerings in each destination.

The reason that the planner-hotelier relationship is so important is because it comes down to three letters: ROI. No matter how strong the present market is for meetings and incentives, if a group doesn’t feel they gained enough return on investment from an off-site program, then won’t use that property again. At AIC Hotel Group, we have a very high retention rate for group clients, and many of them rotate among our properties to experience different destinations while receiving the same high-quality service each time. Our educated approach to maximizing event ROI is what keeps our client coming back year after year.


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