Wednesday, August 23, 2023
The second quarter of 2023 in the UK’s events landscape tells a story of growth coupled with challenges. The latest data from The Business of Events’ Event Economy Tracker Q2 2023 reveals a significant 22% rise in Revenue Per Delegate for conferences and meetings, soaring to £137.85 from the previous quarter’s £112.95. This surge has propelled the average Revenue Per Delegate for the first half of the year to £125.40, surpassing the annual averages of £108.96 in 2021 and £104.78 in 2022.
Rising Revenue Per Delegate
Comparing Q2 2023 to the same period in the prior year (2022), the quarter’s average revenue per delegate exhibited remarkable growth, standing at £113.23 in 2022. This substantial increase underscores the upward trajectory of event costs.
Confirmed Events Surge and Booking Trends
The second quarter of 2023 showcased a surge in confirmed events, surpassing the previous quarter’s numbers. While forward bookings remained stable, registering a minor dip in June, the overall quarter exhibited robustness, despite a slight decline in peak numbers compared to Q1. The confirmed events in June mirrored the zenith observed in November 2022 and matched the figures of March, consistently highlighting the third month’s strength in event activity. The consistent growth in in-person events during Q2 2023 can be attributed to pent-up demand following pandemic-related restrictions. Businesses, keen on reestablishing connections and collaboration, continue to prioritize face-to-face interactions, reaffirming the enduring significance of physical gatherings.
Challenges of High Demand and Inflation
While the events industry thrives on the demand for in-person gatherings, maintaining quality service has proven challenging due to the surge in event volumes. Although June’s inflation eased slightly to 7.9%, it did not translate to reduced event costs. The sector has been particularly affected by energy price hikes, intensifying cost pressures for commercial venues that lacked the same level of government support extended to individuals.
Lead Time and Delegate Numbers
The average lead time for conferences and meetings in Q2 2023 expanded to 80 days from the previous quarter’s 64 days. Although this increase is fractional compared to Q2 2022’s 77 days, it highlights a departure from the pre-pandemic trend observed in 2019. Despite this shift, short lead times remain the norm. The average number of delegates per event continued to decline, settling at 65 in Q2 2023, down from Q1’s 74. This year’s average is notably lower than the 2022 average of 93 delegates per event, reflecting a substantial 25% drop. This shift towards smaller events, despite their increased frequency, contributes to the upward trajectory of prices as venues aim to compensate for reduced delegate numbers.
Adapting to Change and Ensuring Profitability
As the events sector grapples with inflationary pressures and evolving attendee dynamics, adapting to the changing landscape while ensuring quality and profitability remains a paramount challenge. The ability to strike a balance between providing excellent service and managing the financial implications of increased costs and decreased delegate numbers will be critical in navigating the sector’s future.
Expert ‘s Talk
Martin Fullard, Director of News & Content, notes that Q2 presents a mixed picture. While the appetite for in-person events remains strong, there are challenges. Inflation has led to a notable increase in Revenue Per Delegate, with a simultaneous reduction in delegate numbers.
Peter Heath, Managing Director of Venue Performance, emphasizes the positive desire for in-person meetings. He highlights the increasing Revenue Per Delegate as a response to inflation-induced cost increases and underscores the need for a new operational approach to handle shifting lead times.
The UK’s events landscape in Q2 2023 reflects a dynamic environment characterized by growth in revenue but also challenges stemming from high demand and inflation. The sector’s adaptability and resilience are evident as it continues to navigate changing dynamics while maintaining its role as a platform for meaningful interactions and business growth.