Data analysis: Price Per Head for business events sees dramatic increase

Business events industry

The Price Per Head (PPH) for conferences and meetings has increased in London, according to the latest data exclusively provided to The Business of Events by Venue Performance.

In 2019, the last full year before business was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the average PPH for conferences and meetings was just over £80, while the average size of these events sat at 65 delegates (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 | Delegate size (blue) and Price Per Head (red) between 1 January and 31 December 2019 – Venue Performance

As of 30 November 2022, the average PPH across the capital was £100, a 25% increase on 2019 (the last comparable year). The size of business events also grew significantly, rising to 86 delegates: a 32% increase (Fig. 2).

This can be attributed to multiple factors. The displaced business from 2020 and 2021 finally took place, increasing demand and therefore supply.

Fig. 2 | Delegate size (blue) and Price Per Head (red) for events between 1 January and 30 November 2022Venue Performance

Recruitment has also been a factor for venues, as is the case with the associated hospitality sector. The lack of staff across multiple positions, including cleaning staff and salespeople, has meant some venues have not been able to fully reopen, but has also meant employees can command higher wages, in turn pushing prices up.

The cost of energy has also heavily impacted venues. Many have not been eligible for support, while the relative short-termism of the existing support does very little to help with future planning. Often, many events are booked months in advance and therefore pricing is based on the climate of the day. With energy fluctuating in the way it has, it can be assumed some venues may have to budget for the worst-case scenario when it comes to setting PPH.

These economic factors are evidenced as we look ahead to 2023 (Fig. 3), with the data from Venue Performance revealing that the average event size rises to 126 and the PPH average sits at £167.

However, it should be caveated that as these are future confirmed bookings; the events industry is still seeing short lead times. Therefore, anything confirmed for 2023 as of 30 November 2022 is likely to be larger, more expensive events which require longer lead times. The picture will become clearer by the end of Q1 in 2023.

Fig. 3 | Delegate size (blue) and Price Per Head (red) for event bookings for 2023, as of 30 November 2022Venue Performance

Trend summary

As you will see in the graph below (Fig. 4), which begins in January 2019 and is up to date as of 30 November, 2022 has seen a large increase in the number of bookings (the lighter coloured line) and the level of physical events (the darker line).

Fig. 4 | Past and future bookings and events in London, January 2019 to December 2023, as of 30 November 2022 – Venue Performance

It far exceeds 2019 as the last full comparable year and bookings have been on an upwards trajectory since April 2021 when Covid-19 restrictions began to be lifted.

The sudden dip at the end of 2022 shouldn’t be cause for concern as this is indicative that short lead times remain and in Q1 it is expected to stabilise. However, the spike seen in November 2022 is likely to be unsustainable as the last of the Covid-displaced business has taken place. It is fair to assume the number of confirmed business events should settle around the level of the 2019 peak in 2023.

TBOE will review this data again at the end of Q1 in 2023.

Venue Performance is a leading source of data for benchmarking, market analytics and performance insights for the UK M&E industry. There is no commercial relationship between Venue Performance and The Business of Events or davies tanner.

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