Business of Events Events Economy Tracker

Revenue per delegate increases as event size shrinks, says Business of Events data

The UK’s events landscape for Q2 2023 paints a picture of growth and challenges, characterised by a notable 22 per cent increase in revenue per delegate for conferences and events. According to The Business of Events’ Event Economy Tracker Q2 2023, revenue per delegate reached £137.85 from the previous quarter’s £112.95. This surge has propelled the average revenue per delegate to £125.40 in the first half of the year, surpassing the prior annual averages of £108.96 in 2021 and £104.78 in 2022.

The quarterly average for Q2 in 2022 stood at £113.23, highlighting the steep ascent in prices. Q2 showcased a surge in confirmed events, outpacing the previous quarter. While forward bookings remained relatively stable, showing a minor decline in June, the quarter as a whole exhibited strength, notwithstanding a marginal dip in the peak compared to Q1. June’s confirmed events closely mirrored November 2022 and matched March’s figures, emphasising the recurring pattern of the third month proving the strongest.

Attributed to pent-up demand following pandemic-related restrictions, the robust trend in in-person events endures in Q2 2023. Even as inflation impacts various sectors, businesses continue to prioritise face-to-face interactions.

However, the industry grapples with ongoing challenges in maintaining quality service due to high event volumes. While inflation slightly eased to 7.9 per cent in June, it has not translated to reduced event costs. Energy price hikes have particularly affected the sector, amplifying cost pressures for commercial venues that lacked the same level of government support as individuals.

Amidst this backdrop, the average lead time for conferences and meetings in Q2 2023 increased to 80 days from Q1’s 64 days. Though only a fractional rise from Q2 2022’s 77 days, this underlines the departure from the pre-pandemic trend observed in 2019 and short lead times remain. Furthermore, 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 per cent drop. This underlines the shift towards smaller events despite their increased frequency. This will also contribute to higher prices as venues compensate for smaller events.

As the events sector grapples with inflationary pressures and changing attendee dynamics, adapting to the evolving landscape while maintaining quality and profitability remains a paramount challenge.

Martin Fullard, Business of Events’ director of news and content, said: “Q2 paints a mixed picture. It has demonstrated a strong appetite for in-person events remains, and despite the Easter Break and an additional Bank Holiday in May, forward bookings and actual events taking place remained strong.

“However, there remain challenges that cannot be ignored. Inflation in June sat at 7.9 per cent and as a result we’ve seen a notable increase in revenue per delegate, some 22 per cent. This has been impacted further by the fact that there has been a clear reduction in the number of delegates at events, by some 25 per cent on 2022’s average. This means venues may not be earning as much from their spaces. While more events are taking place this is an increased pressure on resource.”