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UKEIS Profile Findings Shows Scale of UK Meetings Industry for the First Time

The first of the UK Economic Impact Study (UKEIS) results have been announced by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation at International Confex. The results, which provide a detailed profile of the UK meetings and events industry, are the first of their kind.

The project is led by the MPI Foundation, whilst the research has been undertaken by researchers at the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality (ICRETH) at Leeds Metropolitan University on behalf of the UK meetings industry.

The findings were introduced by MPI Foundation International Board member and MCI Group Vice President - Industry Relations, Patrick Delaney who commented: “The level of detail provided by this research is truly fantastic, particularly the regional and city specific information, which allows us to develop a clear picture of the sector within this country. Ours is a growing industry, these figures show its current scale and set the benchmark for the future.”

International Confex, event director and MPI UK & Ireland President Elect, James Samuel: “The UKEIS is the most important research ever undertaken by this sector and this profile data provides a clearer picture of the industry than we have ever previously had. As the figures are broken down and further information becomes available we will gain a true insight into not just the size of our sector but also its impact and position in the world around us.”

ICRETH representative Glenn Bowdin announced the details of the profile information, commenting: “This is the first time this level of information has been gathered in the UK, it is also the first time this type of study has been conducted in such detail. This is a significant milestone as this announcement demonstrates the size and shape of the sector. The full reports over the coming months will show more profile information and most importantly demonstrate the critical role the meetings industry plays in the UK economy. These profile findings are just the start of establishing the full economic picture, which will be announced at The Meetings Show UK in July, 2013.”

UKEIS Profile Findings

The research team from the ICRETH has reviewed published reports and other secondary data from 2011 and analysed over 3,460 survey responses from venues, meeting organisations and destination management organisations across the UK as well as from attendees and exhibitors in the UK, France, USA, Ireland and Germany to provide the following information:

  • Over 1,301,600 meetings took place in the UK and attracted 116.1 million attendees who accounted for spending just under £40bn. Over half of the attendees came to consumer shows and exhibitions, nearly 40% attended conferences.
  • Meetings took place in 10,127 meeting venues across the UK, 27.7% were large hotels (more than 50 rooms) with meeting facilities. Almost 20% were classed as unusual, unique or special event venues and 14.2% were purpose built convention or exhibition centres. In total the venues occupied 60 million square metres or the equivalent of almost 6,000 football pitches and offered a total seating capacity of approximately 8.5 million seats.
  • On average each venue was used for 125 days in the year. Large hotels with meeting facilities held all types of meetings conferences, consumer shows, exhibitions and incentive events. More trade shows and business exhibitions were held in purpose built conventions and exhibition centres. Small hotels hosted more incentive events. Resort properties, university / educational institutions and unique and special event venues without bedrooms proved a popular choice for conferences.
  • On average meeting organisations staged 147 events in the year. Over 81% of meetings were held for the corporate sector, 6.3% of meetings were for Associations, 5.2% for Non-Government and not-for-profit organisations and 4% for Government and public service organisations.
  • 64% of meetings were classed as small meetings with fewer than 100 attendees; nearly 30% were for between 100-500 attendees and 6% attracted more than 500 attendees.
  • The average length of a meeting was 2 days. Over half (53.8%) of meetings in the UK in 2011 were a single day or less in length. Most meetings happened in March and April (272,926) while far fewer meetings happened in December (46,346). Within England, the Greater London region hosted the most meetings (362,500) followed by the South East (163,349) and the West Midlands (143,210). In other home countries, Scotland hosted most meetings (86,524), Wales hosted 75,802 and Northern Ireland hosted 20,447 meetings over the year.78.5% of people attending meetings were from within the UK and 21.5% were international attendees. In 2011, the total spending generated by international meetings attendees was £10.8 billion and by national meeting attendees was £21.3 billion. The total spend by people who accompanied attendees to the meeting host destination was £7.7 billion. Exhibitors attended events that on average took place over 4 days, spending 3 nights at host destinations, attendees on average spent 2 nights at host destinations.
  • The largest expense for meeting organisations in the UK was on venue hire (17.4%), equipment / production (13.4%) and food and beverages (11.9%). The most prominent income was from delegate registration fees (38.1%) followed by exhibitor fees (31.6%) and sponsorship (19.5%).
  • The largest spend for attendees was on accommodation (20.6%) followed by meeting registration fees (18.7%). 10.3% of attendee spend was on air transport with food and beverages from restaurants, cafés and bars accounting for 9.5% and 5.8% spent on fees to attend optional programs such as reception events, dinners and social events.
  • UK venues spent most on salaries and wages (18.6%), maintenance and repairs (17.8%) and other administrative expenses such as professional fees and contracted services (17%). The highest amount of revenue was gained from meeting space rental (58.1%), followed by exhibition services (14.7%) and food and beverage (11.5%).
  • Out of the four key business tourism markets surveyed, US attendees (£3.9 billion) spent more than the other business tourism markets Ireland (£2.5 billion), Germany (£1.2 billion) and France (£0.9 billion).