AmEx GBT: Canadian meetings data for 2020

Gerardo Tejado.
Gerardo Tejado.

TORONTO — AmEx GBT reports in its 2020 Global Meetings & Events Forecast that overall budgets for meetings in North America are expected to rise only moderately in 2020: by 1.8 per cent in the U.S. and by just over 0.7 per cent in Canada. The discrepancy may be because meetings cost more in Canada, with respondents expecting to spend $789 per person at higher-cost events, compared to American respondents who predicted a cost of $685 per day.

While there isn’t a breakdown for Canada specifically, because AmEx GBT groups the data by continent, Gerardo Tejado, general manager of American Express Meetings & Events, spoke to CLN about how these results affect our country. Here are some key findings about Canada.

Internal meetings are the second most prevalent in Canada and a big jump is anticipated in the senior leadership category compared to last year’s forecast, increasing from 13 per cent to 26 per cent.

The big jump in meetings for the senior leadership category may reflect high-level strategic planning at that level, Tejado told CLN.  “The economy is shifting and headwinds are foreseen, although we are optimistic about the industry in general. This was such a big jump — it moved higher than the U.S. We think these are important meetings to help drive business direction.”

Respondents in Canada expect to see the largest increase in activity levels to be in incentives and special events, at 2.2 per cent.

Enhancing the attendee experience is critical, Tejado said. Special events like this make sure event planners capture the attention of participants. Companies want to make sure participants have a large number of incentives. One of the drivers is FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s important to make events memorable. The solution is technology, but also leveraging high-touch services.

Respondents in Canada expect their biggest increase in number of attendees to be product launches, with 2.3 per cent more attendees.

Produce launches and incentives are critical and these are being used more and more to measure returns on investment.

Overall, cost per attendee per day is lower in the U.S. than in Canada, with Canadian respondents expecting to spend $789 per person at higher-cost events, compared to American respondents who predicted a cost of $685 per day.

This all has to do with what participants are expecting. Planners need to design an experience that matters — and must have the support structure in place to give a more memorable experience. This involves leveraging technology, and engaging both before and after the meeting. 

“Meeting planners are now devoting more time to attendee experiences than to logistics,” said Tejado. “The invitation must be unique to get the right feedback in terms of what attendees expect. For example, transportation used to be ordinary, but now planners considering giving out a snack the participants like during the ride. They’re making sure they connect with the people at the meeting. If it costs more money, it all comes down to the attendee experience.”

The biggest spend in Canada, is predicted to be on marketing/sales events, where the focus is on attracting new customers.

Marketing and sales events are revenue generating activities, rather than just a cost of doing business. It’s all about understanding that meetings drive business, said Tejado.

The top destinations for meetings and events in Canada are unchanged from last year with Toronto as the top destination followed by Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary.

“I’m excited by where the industry is going, with end-to-end solutions, personal experiences, and the right levels or technology and high-touch,” Tejado said. 

Read the AmEx GBT 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast here.