The British Association of Conference Destination's (BACD) Conference Market Trends Survey 2001 also found the number of conferences taking place in the UK during 2001 reached 1.4 million, up from 1.3 million the previous year.
Other findings included a decline in the average duration of residential conferences, down from 2.6 to 2.4 days, and a steep drop in the average number of delegates attending residential conferences - just 50 compared with 72 in 2000.
The report also looked at where and when conferences are held, as well as the different types of meetings. It found that 71% took place in urban or airport hotels, while 10% were held at rural properties, and that non-residential conferences were more likely to be held in March, September or October, with residential ones tending to take place in either September or October.
Around three-fifths (59%) of the meetings were classified as corporate events, the remainder were defined as public sector or association conferences.
A third (34%) of all conferences were booked through a PCO or agency and an estimated 5% had an associated exhibition.
BACD executive director Tony Rogers said: "This is a crucial piece of research that helps us to understand emerging trends in our industry and gives us the best available estimates for the conference sector's impact on the national economy."
The BACD canvassed the opinion of a record number of meetings venues - 314 in total - including hotels, purpose-built sites, academic facilities and residential conference centres.
The head of the London Convention Bureau, Mady Keup, was elected chair of the BACD for 2002-3 at its AGM and annual convention held in St Andrews in mid-June. Hamish Reid, manager of Jersey Conference Bureau, was elected vice-chair.