Budgets cut, as procurement tightens its grip

Sixty per cent of UK
corporate and 54 per cent of association buyers cite reduced budgets as their
key concern for the next 12 months. This, in turn, is making venue and supplier
cancellation policies and terms and conditions a high priority. These findings
come from the new British Meetings and Events Industry Survey (BMEIS). 

On the positive side, a slight increase in overall budget for the
association sector was noticed, up 0.5 per cent in the last 12 months. This
contrasts with a 1.9 per cent reduction in event budgets in the corporate
sector.

Thirty per cent of corporates now involve procurement departments,
according to the survey of 600 buyers carried out by The Right Solution.

A third of corporate buyers and 16 per cent of associations report a
reduction in events organised, although nearly 20 per cent of both sectors
anticipate an increase in the number next year.

The survey also reveals a reduction in the average budgeted daily and
24-hour delegate rates. Delegate numbers overall are down, with the average
number of delegates at an association’s main annual conference just 289 last
year, compared with 357 in 2007 and regular corporate events seeing an average
of 117 delegates, down from 180 in 2007.

‘Added value items’ are the preferred incentives for respondents, closely
followed by discounts on multiple bookings. 

The use of third party agents appears to be on the increase, with 21
per cent of associations and 28 per cent of corporate events being organised by
third parties.

Location, price and access remain the most important factors
influencing venue selection while ‘relevant content’ and ‘inspiring
presentations’ are considered to be the prime factors contributing to
successful events.  Event ROI was cited by only 10 per cent of
associations and 22 per cent of corporates as important in measuring event
success.

In terms of location, the major cities and city centre hotels remain
the destinations and venues of choice.  London
tops the list for both associations and corporates, with Birmingham
and Manchester
vying for second and third places.  Buyers in both sectors continue
to use overseas destinations, with the Republic
of Ireland, Germany
and France
the most popular destinations.

TRS managing director Sally Greenhill says: “This BMEIS has confirmed
some of the industry’s fears over reductions in budgets, but it has also shown
that there is optimism in some quarters, with a slight increase in association
budgets and 20 per cent of buyers anticipating an overall increase in the
number of events organised next year.”

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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