TBOE Events Economy Tracker: In-Person Appetite Remains

Monday, 18.03.2024
The average number of delegates attending events in the fourth quarter of 2023 was 69, which is an increase from 36 in Q3.

The industry exhibits resilience and adaptability, says the TBOE Events Economy Tracker; photo: Rawpixel/iStock

In the fourth quarter of 2023, the conference and meetings industry experienced growth. November marked a peak in event numbers, as observed in The Business of Events’ Events Economy Tracker Report, which utilized Venue Performance data. Although December typically sees a decline in business activity due to concentrated corporate events in the first half, forward bookings indicated shorter lead times despite a slight Q4 increase.

In November 2023, there were 31 confirmed events across UK venues, primarily consisting of meetings and larger conferences. This mirrors the pattern seen in 2022, with meetings consistently outnumbering conferences two to one. There were also modest increases in banquets and Christmas parties, which align with seasonal expectations.

The RPD for 2023 increased by 12 % to £117

The Revenue Per Delegate (RPD) in Q4 was £110, slightly up from Q3 but notably below Q2’s peak at £138. This reflects sustained business levels amidst cost stabilization. The RPD for 2023 increased by 12 % to £117, mainly due to inflation, particularly in food costs.

Lead times for event bookings rose to an average of 95 days in Q4, compared to 72 days in Q3, although still longer than pre-pandemic levels. Venues viewed this increase as an anomaly rather than a change in trend. Short lead times remain a challenge for the sector.

The average number of delegates attending events in Q4 was 69, which is an increase from 36 in Q3. This resulted in a yearly average of 59 delegates per event, which is a 37% decrease from 2022. This trend towards smaller events despite higher RPD suggests that event planners are managing increased costs by hosting fewer attendees.

QEII Centre: 2023 third-best trading year

Despite challenges such as inflation, the industry is adapting, as evidenced by shifting booking patterns and attendee sizes. Mark Taylor, the Chief Executive of QEII Centre, reported that 2023 was their third-best trading year, with 15.6% higher revenue than in 2022. Natalie Boon, the Marketing Manager at IET Venues, noted venue growth despite industry challenges, with IET London: Savoy Place achieving its highest RPD in Q4.

Danielle Bounds, the Sales Director at ICC Wales, expressed concerns about persistent short-lead times. She highlighted the industry’s struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Despite facing challenges, the industry exhibits resilience and adaptability, buoyed by venues’ efforts to optimize performance amidst changing circumstances.

A free copy of the Q4 2023 report can be downloaded here.