…But how price-focused are event organisers? Average spend per meeting is on the rise, alongside venue day delegate rates (DDR) according to two recently published pieces of industry research. The HBAA Meetings Barometer reveals an 8.8% increase in the average spend per meeting to £2,144 during the past 12 months. The average spend per delegate has also increased from £85.71 in 2018 to £91.46 for the first six months of 2019 (a rise of 6.7%).
The Meetings Industry Association’s Touchstone report meanwhile says that DDRs rose 3% from January to July, compared with the same period in 2018. Average DDR rates have risen as much as 30% over the last four years, with the biggest increases recorded in the South West and East Midlands.
The latest miaTouchstone quarterly report, which studies the enquiry levels, number of meetings, and average daily and 24-hour residential rates of mia members, further states that enquiry levels have continued to grow by 5%. However, the average number of meetings held in the first six months of 2019 fell by 15% compared to the same period in 2018. The HBAA also concurs that DDRs have risen among its members for the first six months of 2019 but calculates only a 1% percent increase from £32.89 last year to £33.17.
Experts call for cautious optimism despite buoyant numbers
“It’s been a good first half of the year for the UK meetings industry and bookings for the rest of the year indicate that this buoyancy will continue until at least the end of the year,” says Angie Mason, chair of the HBAA. “The HBAA Meetings Barometer data highlights positive trends in the market and plenty of strong reasons to be optimistic and confident about business in the imminent future.”
Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia agrees but adds a more cautionary note.
“We’ve also seen a positive start to 2019, which reflects a reasonable level of confidence among our members. However, as we approach the Brexit deadline of 31 October, it is likely that many organisations will be holding back on major events until we know the outcome, so venues will be looking at innovative ways to convert enquiries and help them continue to ride the storm.”
She adds: “Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the mia will continue to support its members through its events programme and by initiatives such as miaTouchstone that provides valuable benchmarking data enabling them to compare activity levels across the industry as well as among their peer groups.”
Competitive pricing vs overall experience – what do event organisers prefer?
According to Cvent’s own research (2018 Global Planner Sourcing Report), steady increases in DDR and 24-hour residential rates aren’t likely to put off organisers from booking meetings and events.
Interestingly, when we asked organisers what level of savings would persuade them to switch to their second-choice venue during the sourcing process, almost 20 per cent said that a DDR discount wouldn’t influence their decision. For those respondents, competitive discounting no longer has the same power it once did. What’s evidently more important is how transparent the pricing is, how accurate the quotes are, how quickly quotes are received, and whether honest negotiation is an option.
So while steady increases in pricing is a positive indication of the meetings and event sector’s continued robustness, it’s the overall booking experience that will ultimately win the hearts and minds of the planner.