Face-to-face comes back strong, says UKCAM Survey

The highest numbers of face-to-face conferences and meetings were held at UK venues since 2008, according to new research into the UK’s conference and meetings sector, entitled the ‘UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2017’ (UKCAMS).

The study estimates the specific conference and meetings sector to be worth £19.4bn in venue and destination direct spend in 2016, a rise in line with inflation compared with the estimated value of £19.2bn in 2015.

Now in its 24th consecutive year, UKCAMS has a specific focus on the value and volume of the market and the performance of meeting venues. It also highlights key market trends identified by venues.

The findings show that the overall number of conferences and meetings in 2016 (an estimated 1.45m) rose by 110,000 (or 8%) compared with the 2015 figure of 1.34m.

However, a slight decrease in the average size of events (67 delegates per event as against 70 in 2015) combined with a small reduction in the proportion of residential events meant that the overall value of the sector has remained more or less constant.

Clients are negotiating hard and the research shows that price and value for money factors are key criteria for event organisers when selecting their next venues.

Other indicators of market buoyancy revealed by this new research include optimism on the part of UK venues about the prospects for future business performance, with some 59% of venues predicting that business will increase further in 2017. At the same time, product investment levels are at their highest level since 2011, with over four-fifths of the survey respondents indicating that they had undertaken some capital investment in 2016.

Other key findings from the research include:

·         There was an average of 419 conferences and meetings per venue in 2016 (compared with an average of 383 in 2015), the highest level in the past 10 years. The majority of events were held in hotels, followed by unusual/multi-purpose venues

·         Conference and training centre (536 events) and hotels (459 events) hosted higher than average numbers of events

·         In 2016, there were an estimated 97.5m delegates accounting for approximately 151.2m delegate days (compared with 94.1m delegates and 144m delegate days in 2015)

·         The average daily delegate rate achieved by venues for conferences and meetings was £39 (inc VAT) (£37 inc VAT in 2015). The average 24-hour/residential rate was £142 (inc VAT)(£137 in 2015)

·         Other important influencing factors for event organisers, as noted by venues, were the provision of free Wi-Fi, venue location and accessibility, and the availability of flexible event spaces.

“We believe that the UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2017 provides further confirmation of the energy and vitality of the conference and meetings sector,” commented Tony Rogers (pictured), who has been involved with this research since its inception in 1993. “It also offers an invaluable insight into the sector’s scale and characteristics, and into current and emerging trends. It is essential reading for all who want to keep abreast of the sector’s changing dynamics and growth potential.”

The 2017 UKCAMS research was sponsored by: IMEX Group, venuedirectory.com, Visit Guildford for Business, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, and Hiscox Event Insurance.

The research was carried out by Tony Rogers of Tony Rogers Conference & Event Services and Richard Smith of RJS Associates.

Copies of the full UKCAMS 2017 report are available priced £165 + VAT. Visit http://www.ukcams.org.uk to download an order form.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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