The latest events economy tracker report from The Business of Events (TBOE) paints a picture of growth and challenges, as rising costs are being passed onto planners.
The report, based on data from a sample of 400 venues in the second quarter of 2023 by UK data insights company Venue Performance, reveals that Revenue Per Delegate for meetings and events has increased by 22%, reaching £137.85 from the previous quarter’s £112.95. Revenue Per Delegate is defined by venue hire charges, food and beverage, and ‘other’, such as AV hire.
Peter Heath, Venue Performance MD said: “The Revenue Per Delegate is increasing and that is a clear indication that costs, raised by inflation, are now being passed on by the venues to the organisers. While it is positive that this doesn’t seem to be a barrier for now, there remains a question over how long that will last.”
On a positive note, Q2 showcased a surge in confirmed events, outpacing the previous quarter. Forward bookings remain relatively consistent with only a minor tail-off in June and although the peak was fractionally lower than in Q1, the quarter as a whole was stronger.
However, the report notes that the industry continues to face challenges in maintaining its ability to service the consistently high number of events, such as filling vacancies and supplier availability. Despite inflation dropping slightly to 7.9% in June, this will not be reflected in event costs.
The average lead time for conferences and events has increased to 80 days from 64 days in the first quarter, but this still remains much shorter than pre-Covid times.
“Lead times are one of the key areas that most operators would like to see return to 2019 levels, but it’s simply not happening. A new way of forecasting, budgeting, measuring, and operating is needed. Simply wishing for things to return is not realistic in the short-to-medium term,” said Heath.
The average number of delegates per event has continued to slide and sat at 65 in Q2 2023, down from Q1’s 74. The year’s average to date is notably lower compared to 2022’s average of 93 delegates per event, reflecting a 25% drop.
This underlines a downward trend revealing events are getting smaller, despite more taking place. This will put pressure on venues as fewer delegates reduces revenue per head unless prices increase or more space is sold.