£18.1bn generated by conference and meeting delegates, new research shows

£18.1 billion of expenditure generated by conference and meeting delegates in venues and destination spend in 2017, says VisitBritain.

Research into the UK’s conference and meetings sector shows that while the overall number of conferences and meetings held in 2017 was lower than in 2016, the average size of events was up slightly on 2016.

Called ‘UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2018’ (UKCAMS), the research focuses on the value and volume of the market and the performance of meeting venues.

The delegate spend calculations in the report are based on the latest Business Events Research conducted in 2017 by VisitBritain, replacing the historic data that had previously been used in UKCAMS estimates. 

VisitBritain’s head of business events Kerrin MacPhie said: "The ‘UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2018’ provides UK destinations and venues with important insights into the sector’s scale and latest trends, helping to inform their business planning and marketing activity.

"VisitBritain is committed to working with the sector to grow the UK’s share of international business events and this research is a valuable tool in helping achieve this." 

The paper also highlights key market trends identified by venues.

  • In 2017, there were an estimated 92.8 million delegates accounting for approximately 147.4 million delegate days. These delegates generated an estimated £18.1 billion of direct expenditure in venues and the wider destination, down slightly on 2016 (£18.6 billion)
  • The average duration of conferences and meetings was 1.6 days (unchanged from previous years), although almost two-thirds of events lasted only one day or less
  • Conference and training centres (592 events), hotels (445 events) and academic venues (387 events) hosted higher than average numbers of events
  • Two-fifths of events in 2017 (40 per cent) were organised by a professional conference organiser (PCO) or event management agency. This was up on 2016 and continues a trend of increasing use of third-party organisers by event owners
  • Just over a tenth (12%) of venues hosted a significant proportion of international conferences - 11% or more of their conferences. However, of those venues that do not target international conferences, a fifth are very interested in targeting this market in the future. Venues tended to target international conferences through trade shows and / or in partnership with a conference bureau.

The results are widely used to inform investment, advocacy and marketing activities.

The 2018 UKCAMS research was sponsored by VisitBritain, IMEX Group, venuedirectory.com, Visit Guildford for Business, Glasgow Convention Bureau, and Hiscox Event Insurance.

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