The volume of residential event bookings has dipped sharply in the last 12 months according to the 2008 BDRC UK Meetings Market Survey.
Three years ago, more than half of all nights spent in hotels on business were for meetings, conferences or training sessions, this proportion has sunk to 29 per cent in the latter half of 2007 and first half of 2008.
The news for the meetings market is not all bad. While the downturn in residential events has had a predictable knock-on effect on agency event booking volumes, the volume of corporate and association bookings has risen, according to the BDRC survey, with demand for smaller, non-residential meeting space remaining strong, in spite of the economic downturn.
Venue loyalty appears to be as fickle as ever: bookers once again spreading their events across a larger number of hotel brands and a wider range of venue types. Sporting venues, visitor attractions, and academic venues have all increased their penetration. Among associations in particular, there is also clear evidence of a quest for cost-savings, with a significant upturn in usage of own facilities as an alternative to an external venue.
The survey again identified ‘prompt and professional handling of enquiries’ as the most important aspect of product and service delivery, reinforcing the need for hotel and venue operators to focus on improving their staff and facilities.