In the past 12 months, the number of corporate events has risen by 21%. This is according to the latest UK Conference Market Survey by the Meetings Industry Association (MIA) published earlier this month, and marks the first significant increase in volume since 2000.
Based on interviews with 300 UK corporate organisers, a total of 3,420 events were held in 2004, compared with 2,820 in 2003. While this marks a comeback in the corporate meetings sector, figures are yet to hit 1999’s peak when 3,720 events took place.
However, despite the increase in volume, yearly budgets have fallen. The corporate sector’s annual budget was reduced to an average of £99,700 from £107,600 and the 24-hour rate fell to £157.60 from £160.80.
However, the day-delegate rate rose to £52.90 from £49.10, a reflection of the fact that 60% of events are non-residential and venues are setting prices accordingly.
“While the increase in volume is encouraging, the fact that delegate numbers and budgets have fallen means that venues are under more pressure to manage their yields,” said MIA council member Sally Greenhill, also director of The Right Solution, the company charged with carrying out the research.
This year’s report, MIA’s 12th, also showed that training sessions are now more of a priority than management meetings. This was followed by sales conferences and staff meetings.
Other findings revealed that, on average, fewer delegates attended each meeting, down from 131 delegates in 2003 to 99 in 2004, while the duration of corporate events fell from 1.4 days to 1.3.
Meanwhile, London retains the lion’s share of meetings. Around 60% of corporates held an event in the capital in 2004, with 30% heading for Birmingham and 27% to Manchester. The defection of events to destinations outside the UK seems to have been stemmed. In 2004, 6.5% of corporates headed overseas compared with 8% the previous year.
Responses from the 300 UK corporates
* Thursday, Wednesday and Tuesday ranked as the most popular days for events
* July, August and December remain unpopular
* 66% now refer to the internet when sourcing venues, compared to 43% in 2003.
* Numbers of delegates at an event fell from 131 in 2003 to 99 in 2004
* Event duration fell from 1.4 to 1.3 days
* In order of criteria when choosing a venue, location, price, access and quality of conference facilities are the top four factors.
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