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November 10, 2015

UK: Annual Budgets and Attendee Numbers Down As Measurement Soars

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Declines in annual budget, attendance numbers and volume of events are forcing more event organisers than ever to measure return on investment (ROI).

According to this year’s British Meetings & Events Industry Survey (BMEIS), both corporate and association planners in the UK reported a decrease in annual budgets. For corporate planners, average budgets have fallen from an average of £214k to £202k, and £140k from £233k for association planners, while the volume of events has fallen by 25 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.

Photo by Freeimages.com/Bob Smith

BMEIS, compiled by The Right Solution on behalf of CAT Publications, is a study of the buying trends of almost 500 UK-based event organisers from the corporate, association and not-for-profit sector. It also revealed that in the face of ever-increasing restrictions almost 58 per cent of associations said they now measure ROI – up from just 28 per cent last year. For corporates, that figures has leapt from 36 per cent to 49 per cent.

Rob Edwards, head of events at SunGard Financial Systems, has been analysing ROI for five years. 

“Budget is the main reason but we also measure to establish the quality of event, as well as the event experience and also from a reputation perspective,” he says.

“ROI is both essential and mandatory at SunGard. It has a direct effect on the following year’s budget and events schedule; without it we are just the team who spends the money. We want to be the team which is essential to growing the pipeline.”

Mark Saxby, C2 events executive director, added that budgetary pressures were here to stay. “In today’s world, particularly in the corporate space, there’s always been pressure in terms of budgets and I’m not sure that will ever go away,” he said. “The more one can track success of an event the more events can continue to receive investment and continue getting a bigger share of the cake.”

For associations, measurement of ROI is a different beast with a focus on communication. Mike Kimmons, CEO of the British Orthopaedic Association, says: “My return on investment is not financial – it’s about the quality of the discourse for attending doctors.”

To order the complete BMEIS research report, visit www.meetpie.com/bmeis

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