Conference and meeting spend in UK increases by £1.9 billion

Research commissioned by Visit Britain finds MICE sector in good health, with the number of meetings at venues also rising.

There was an estimated £20 billion of direct expenditure generated by conference and meeting delegates in the UK in 2018, an increase of £1.9 billion compared to 2017. 

New research into the UK’s meetings sector, entitled the ‘UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2019’ (UKCAMS), has also shown an average of 428 conferences and meetings per venue compared with 373 in 2017 and 419 in 2016.

The research findings also reveal that the overall number of conferences and meetings in 2018 was an estimated 1.48 million compared with the 2017 figure of 1.29 million (and 1.45 million in 2016). 

The average event size was 72 delegates, the same as for 2017.

"The UK is home to many world-renowned venues that consistently host leading international events," said Kerrin MacPhie, VisitBritain’s head of business events. "Their success not only needs to be recorded but also celebrated. 

"VisitBritain recognises the importance of the ICCA ranking as a key tool in achieving this. The UKCAMS research results show us that more can be done by UK venues to record ICCA activity and we strongly encourage them to consistently log their international ICCA events."

Levels of capital investment by venues remained strong with 73% of venues reporting that they had invested in their property in 2018, with 17% investing over £500,000.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • In 2018, there were an estimated 95.3 million delegates accounting for approximately 152.8 million delegate days.
  • 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 (640 events) and hotels (453 events) hosted higher than average numbers of events
  • Just over a third (35%) of conferences and meetings in 2018 were organised by a professional conference organiser (PCO) or event management agency.

The research was carried out by Tony Rogers Conference & Event Services and Richard Smith of RJS Associates, on behalf of VisitBritain, The Meetings Show, venuedirectory.com, Visit Guildford for Business and Hiscox Event Insurance. 

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