UK meetings and events show resilience

Q1 2023 data shows that delegation sizes average around 74 pax.

Meetings tend to have skewed average lead times during seasonal events such as Christmas.
Meetings tend to have skewed average lead times during seasonal events such as Christmas. Photo Credit: Adobe stock/Koonsiri

The UK meetings and events industry has experienced a rise in the price per head by 14.7%, according to the Event Economy Tracker by the Business of Events. The Q1 2O23 results by Venue Performance reveal that this figure marginally exceeds inflation. This increase shows that the industry has been able to maintain its value proposition for attendees.

Statistics at a glance:

· January and February were slower months, with Q1 ‘saved’ by a strong March

· In Q1 2023, the average lead time was 64 days (Q1 2022 was 54 days)

· Delegate sizes have dropped to 74 pax on average

· Meetings are more prevalent than conferences in the industry.

March 2023 saw a boost due to a combination of end-of-year budgets and greater optimism in the economy after it avoided recession, although narrowly.

Q2 of 2023 is forecast to be a tricky period for the industry. The impact of Easter and three bank holidays in May is expected to lower the number of bookings for events. This highlights the continued uncertainty in the industry and the need for event planners to remain flexible and adaptive to changes in the market.

Meetings are generally being considered one-day events in which the group engages with themselves, while a conference is defined as an event with staging and speakers addressing an audience. This suggests that attendees are more comfortable with smaller, more intimate events rather than larger-scale conferences.

Short lead times remain a trend in the industry. However, Q4 2022 saw a higher average lead time of 87 days, although this figure will be somewhat skewed by Christmas parties and other seasonal events.

Martin Fullard, director, News & Content, The Business of Events, said there broadly remains a strong appetite for conferences and meetings in the UK, and the market is returning to more sustainable levels after the heights seen in 2022.

He added that the cost of living continues to bite, forcing the supply chain to pass costs on to event planners, and the upcoming months will prove another big test for the industry’s resilience.

Venue Performance provides benchmarking, market analysis and performance insights for the meetings and events industry.