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EVCOM research reveals growth and optimism in business events sector

Leading trade body EVCOM today publishes the 2014 ‘UK Events Market Trends Survey’ (UKEMTS) research. This major research project, now in its 21st consecutive year, provides volume and key trends data for the UK conference and business events market from a supply-side or venue perspective.

The research findings reveal that, while the volume of events in 2013 was down slightly on 2012, the numbers of delegates and delegate days were higher, and average rates for residential events also showed an increase, factors which point to a steady improvement in the business events market. Specifically, in 2013:

• There were an estimated 1.25 million business events in the UK, compared with 1.3 million in 2012
• There were an estimated 91 million delegates (85.5 million in 2012) accounting for approximately 148 million business event days (140 million in 2012)
• Average daily achieved rates by venues were on a par with 2012 (£42 including VAT) but residential rates rose to an average of £136 including VAT compared with £129 in 2012.

A range of other positive indicators also underpin the core message of a recovering business events sector. For example:
• 64 per cent of reporting venues expect business to be up in 2014 and 30 per cent project that it will be at a similar level to 2013 – only 6 per cent foresee a decline in business. The comparable figures last year were 53 per cent expecting business to improve, 35 per cent predicting that it would remain the same, and 12 per cent anticipating a fall
• About four-fifths of venues (79 per cent) had undertaken some investment in 2013. While this proportion was the same as 2012, the levels of investment were slightly up in 2013, with a higher proportion (28 per cent) investing more than £100k than in 2012 (23 per cent) and 2011 (21 per cent).

Venues were asked the extent to which they felt a number of factors were inhibiting the growth of their conference business. Competition from other UK destinations and austerity in the public sector were seen as some of the principal barriers to growth.  

Key demands from buyers were for meeting packages customised and tailored to their specific needs (as opposed to standard, off-the-shelf day delegate and residential packages), together with a requirement for spaces within venues conducive to different meeting objectives (e.g. one-to-one conversations, informal gatherings, presentations, etc.).

“It is very clear that, while the market is showing real signs of recovery, there is absolutely no scope for complacency among business event venues,” commented Dale Parmenter, EVCOM Chairman and Managing Director, drpgroup. “The intensity of competition, the dynamic nature of event organisation combined with new and evolving demands from buyers require venue managers to be thinking innovatively and reacting creatively in order to gain a vital edge in a fiercely competitive market. The UKEMTS 2014 report is essential reading for all who want to stay ahead of the game. EVCOM is extremely grateful to all the venues that participated in this year’s research study.”

413 venues took part in the 2014 study, 11.8 per cent of the universe of 3,500 primary venues used as the basis for the research. The number of reporting venues was significantly higher than in 2013 when 224 venues participated.

The research was undertaken on behalf of EVCOM by Tony Rogers Conference & Event Services and TEAM Tourism.

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