The latest BMEIS 2012 report is available now.

Following the effects of the global recession in 2008 there seemed to be real hope in last year’s survey that market conditions would improve this year. However the results show a mixed picture. Despite up to 63% saying the number of events they organised stayed the same in the last year, the average numbers of events per sector – 29 for associations and 43 for corporates – suggest more events have been held. Average delegate numbers have also increased to 204 at associations’ regular events and 151 for corporates, and 443 and 393 respectively for their main event. Although up to 83% of each sector said the duration of their events had remained the same, 12% said that the percentage of events that are residential had decreased. However there is optimism about the next twelve months with up to 30% of each sector predicting they will organise more events and associations predicting a 3.0% increase in budgets over the next year.

Currently budget pressures remain with three quarters of buyers saying the major issue affecting their events is trying to do ‘more with less’. There is no doubt that the public sector has been affected by spending cuts and results from this sector mention the effects of government policy on their sector. Reported budget changes show a decrease averaging -5.5% for corporates in the last twelve months and an increase of just 0.4% for the not for profit sector. Although the average budgeted daily delegate rates (inc VAT) have increased since last year to £47.67 for associations and £63.83 for corporates, there is clear evidence that buyers now negotiate well with Added value items and discounts on multiple bookings the preferred venue incentives.

The destinations of choice are the major cities with London, Birmingham and Manchester retaining their positions as most used destinations, closely followed by Glasgow and Edinburgh. NewcastleGateshead has moved up from 13th to 9th this year and York has moved from 19th to 13th position. Apart from having a major convention centre and/or the infrastructure to support events, the other factor that significantly influences towns and cities’ success is having major university/ies, as can be seen from the number of associations selecting Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford, Cambridge and Liverpool for their events in addition to those already mentioned.  Purpose built convention centres, multi purpose venues and university/academic venues have all seen increased use by associations this year, although city centre hotels remain the venues of choice for both sectors.

Although the key influences on venue selection are location, price and access, the quality of conference facilities and quality of service are also important and quality of food is more important this year. 52% of associations and 41% of corporates rated the standard of conference facilities at venues as very good. Value for money on the other hand was rated highly by just 32% of associations and 19% of corporates. The issue causing most dissatisfaction is (lack of) availability of free WiFi, rated as poor by 32% of corporates and 25% of associations.

Social media is clearly important for event organisers to communicate with delegates, with 56% of associations and 40% of corporates using them. Twitter and facebook are widely used by associations than corporates. Despite much talk of virtual and hybrid events, there is little change in the percentage of organisers – 17% of corporates and 11% of associations – using virtual meetings instead of face to face.

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