UK meetings industry 'worth £21.6bn'

New research has valued the UK conference and business events sector at an estimated £21.6bn, a 10% increase from the previous year.

New research has valued the UK conference and business events sector at £21.6bn
New research has valued the UK conference and business events sector at £21.6bn

The VisitEngland-sponsored UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2015 (UKCAMS) measured the sector using venue and destination direct spend, showing an increase in value of £2bn compared with the previous year.

It claimed this was due to an increase in event size. Findings showed that the overall number of business events in 2014 (1.28 million) was similar to 2013, but the increased average size of events led to a total of 104 million delegates, generating 162 million business event days, compared with 91 million delegates and 148 million business event days in 2013. 

The research also showed there were higher levels of venue investment in 2014, with 78% having undertaken some investment. The percentage of venues investing more than £100,000 was also up on 2013 levels, and venues’ overall business performance was also better. The majority (65%) of venues anticipated that the 2015 results would show further growth.

Simon Gidman, head of business visits and events for VisitEngland and principal sponsor of UKCAMS 2015, said: "England’s events industry has a lot to look forward to over the next few years. The UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2015 provides important confirmation of the energy and vitality of the sector, and really positive indicators for its future growth."

Other findings by the survey showed that there was an average of 366 events per UK venue in 2014, and the average event duration was 1.6 days, though most events (64%) lasted a day or less.

The average daily delegate rate achieved by venues for business events was £46 (inc VAT), while the average 24-hour or residential rate was £126 (inc VAT). This compares to an average for the period 2010 to 2014 of £43 (inc VAT) for day rates and £129 (inc VAT) for 24-hour or residential rates. UKCAMS said the lack of growth in rates suggested the market is still ‘highly competitive’ and highlights the influence of company procurement departments.

Key challenges noted by venues were keeping pace with technology demands and the provision of wi-fi with sufficient bandwidth.


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