New event enquiries for 2021 suggest that groups sizes will be smaller, budgets will remain largely the same and short-haul destinations such as Portugal (pictured) will be popular once travel returns, according to our recent survey of some of the top UK-based representation companies.
The findings of our survey of companies including Ablemaxx, Destinations Unlimited, Euromic, Mundus Representation, DMC Advantage, Pearl, Just The Letter B and Star Your World, will be discussed in detail by a panel at our event on 10 March (register here), but here’s some of the highlights.
The good news is that all respondents have had new enquiries since the start of the year – 58% have had 1-5 new enquiries, 17% have had 6-10 new enquiries and another 17% have had 20+, while 8% had 11-20. Half of those new enquiries are for Q3 this year and a quarter are for Q4 2021, with the rest for 2022.
The majority (92%) said compared to pre-pandemic, budgets remain the same, with 8% stating budgets have decreased. Half said group sizes are smaller, and the other half said they have remained the same.
The most popular destinations for enquiries included Portugal, Dubai and Turkey, with most predicting UK groups will stay closer to home and choose quieter locations.
Sarah Tennant, Star Your World managing director said: “We expect to see groups staying closer to home in European destinations to start with and much of this will come down to the local handling of the virus and government-imposed travel restrictions, which means event planners will have to be responsive to changes and adapt quickly.”
Henriette Speed, director at Just The Letter B, said: “City centres here in the UK seem to have been harder hit during lockdown, and I see this trend continuing when it comes time to travel again. Most clients will avoid city centres where possible, and especially for incentives. We’re seeing more clients requesting hotels on their own private island in Venice, Lake Como rather than Milan, or in the Winelands outside Cape Town rather than staying in the heart of the city. Having their own little bubble with as little risk of infection as possible gives peace of mind, as well as a more high-end, exclusive feel.”
She added: “Speaking to a number of agency clients recently, corporate clients are eager to return to live, but the biggest hurdle we face is client confidence – both that of the corporate client and the participants. Until travel bans are removed, we are all vaccinated and other countries also catch up with their vaccination programmes, it seems very few clients are willing to be the first out of the gate to take an event overseas. Once one does, I’m sure the rest will follow but client confidence is going to be key.”
The survey also revealed an increased focus on CSR and sustainability. “The travel hiatus has given companies the chance to re-evaluate their priorities and we’re expecting to see more groups favouring sustainable hotel and travel options, as well as more CSR activities,” explained Tennant.