In the past five years, the meetings industry has transitioned from a state of recovery to one of robust and healthy growth throughout the world, says a leading industry executive.

Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager for American Express Meetings and Events, based his view on the company’s annual worldwide surveys of meetings industry experts. The 2016 global Meetings and Events Forecast was released Tuesday.

“The new report predicts strong growth in meetings across all areas,” he told Smart Meetings at IMEX America 2015 in Las Vegas.

“The mantra in 2015 was to do more with less; the mantra in 2016 will be to do more with a little more.

Jouaneh says that for the first time in years, respondents see more money being available for meetings and events. Overall spending on meetings is expected to increase by 1.9 percent among North American businesses, although budgetary constraints and economic pressures remain concerns.

Another concern is the need to better establish and comply with formal meetings policies. While 87 percent of Asian organizations report being compliant,  Europe and North America report a 70 and 68 percent compliance rate, respectively.

Compliance policies cover a variety of issues, including payment, expansion, safety and approval processes.

“Compliance remains important for meetings and events,” Jouaneh said. “If you look at the types of meetings and events organizations now have, there’s clearly a high risk factor that they won’t align with the company’s values and comply with local laws.”

Jouaneh offered his perspective on face-to-face, virtual and hybrid meetings.

“From an overall business perspective, in the last three or four years virtual meetings have been considered as a viable and cost-effective alternative to face-to-face meetings,” he says. “But people realize that face-to-face meetings are important. As a result, hybrid meetings are becoming more popular than virtual meetings.

“Going forward, I see face-to-face meetings as being a driver across the board.”

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