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Getting it

TOGETHER Corporate confidence might be low but the meetings and events sector is holding steady, says Catherine Chetwynd


hat with Brexit, the falling value of the pound and the attendant uncertainty, it is no surprise that corporate confidence is somewhat lacking right now. The reaction of many has been to consolidate meetings, look for cheaper venues – or at least seek better value – and to pay closer attention to terms and conditions. In addition, tools to manage events are playing a larger part, providing efficiencies of time and money. One long-standing issue, however, is the lack of benchmarking data for meetings and events, with perplexed meetings organisers looking on in envy at the wealth of such data for transient business travel. The Meetings Benchmark, however, is attempting to address the disparity. Launched by Jim Quintrell and Paul Hussey, the company’s MICEtracker tool gathers anonymous data on events from agents such as venue classification or description, the number of delegates, average day delegate rate (DDR) and 24-hour rate, plus client sector SIC code. Subscribers to the service can then use all these categories as filters to help them find out where they stand. According to MICEtracker, in 2016 average day delegate numbers rose by 5.07% on 2015 and 24-hour delegate number were up by almost 23%. 16

“The significant increases in both average lead times (76 days) and conversion (19 days) support the delegate size indicators that meetings got bigger in 2016, with a return to more residential types,” says Quintrell. Spend, however, is a more complex picture. Average 24-hour and day delegate rates fell, the latter by 2.3%, although some cities went against the grain, with Birmingham and London rates rising. However, average spend per meeting rose by more than 15.73% to £1,698.66 and average spend per delegate went up by more than 13%. Another newcomer to the market, MICE in the Bag has been launched by Rosy Burnie, the former travel buyer for manufacturing company Levata, and Ayse Sabbatini. It aims to marry up buyers and suppliers, saving money for suppliers, who can pass that on to their clients.

Companies are not cutting back on the number of events they are holding but they are being more savvy about what they spend”

According to Burnie, companies are not cutting back on the number of events but are being more savvy about what they spend. Not only are budgets smaller but events are more cost-effective and cheaper destinations are benefiting. When it comes to overseas events, that means the likes of Spain, Malta and Portugal. Also popular are Florence, San Diego and Miami, while Event Travel Management (ETM) has seen a rise in demand for cities such as Riga, Tallinn and Lisbon. “Clients are able to put on the same quality of event at a similar, if not better, price than in previous years,” says Senior Events Manager, Victoria Deprez. Many organisations are also hosting events in the UK, cutting costs on travel and accommodation.

Economic efficiencies Also reflecting economic use of budgets is a move to organising smaller events in-house, suggesting better use of office meeting space, and those in the know add that to their programme management tool, to encourage best use. Slightly larger events also feature, often where they are aggregated to benefit from combined budgets to make more impact. Inntel has noted longer gatherings, with a small increase to 2.1 days: “Companies are frequently combining their requirements 

The Business Travel Magazine April-May 2017  

The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...