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All about the British market

All about the British market

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Izania Downie leads Eventia, the main British association of events and meetings professionals, result of the alliance three years ago of three leading industry associations (Corporate Events Association, Incentive Travel & Meetings Association, joined in 2009 by the British Association of Conference Destinations). It has 361 members (companies), representing more than 26Bn pounds of sales.

We had the opportunity to take the opinion of Izania about current market trends in the British market, and we summarise here her view. This may interest you: we are talking about the most important meetings market for our country… 

“Events are now firmly established as a considered component within the marketing mix”, comments Izania, but  the way of calling them tends to change to “live marketing” or “experience marketing”. And well established they are: 46% of respondents indicate that event marketing is a vital component within a brand communications plan.

Eventia research reminds us of the potential of events: According to the association, we are talking about the only communication medium which helps companies at all steps of the communication cycle: it can help generate awareness, interest, desire, sales, and loyalty (whereas other media are focused on one or a few parts of this chain: ad is mostly for awareness and interest generation, for instance).

The main trends impacting the industry now?
According to Izania, we are talking about:
– the economic recession
– the growing influence of procurement practices
– increasing CSR and sustainability awareness
– other trends are technology, ROI, changes to the agency model, resource challenges/opportunities, increasing focus on event content and messaging, and regulatory implications.

Where is the money?
Not everyone suffers in the same way. The current economic situation affects some industries more than others:
– finance, automotive, retail & construction all especially struggling
– pharmaceutical and IT are stable
– public sector & associations are still good customers together with high net-worth individuals. The rich can still spend, and this spending can still include lavish parties…

What impact does the economy have on our industry?

Budgets and perception issues. There is a double phenomenon of budgets being reduced and public pressure to avoid what sometimes looks like luxurious / frivolous events. As a consequence:
– Smaller and less extravagant events are being held,
– Events are trading down from 5 star plus to 3-4 star hotels,
– We also see event cancellations, in some cases for perception issues. Some events are even being held under the name of the agency, so the name of the company does not appear

Decisions made short term. In these highly uncertain times, lead times are getting very short, and late confirmations are not uncommon, as well as short notice cancellations. And pitch processes are getting increasingly complex and unfocussed.

Customer is king, more than ever! Cash is king these days: clients can more easily request renegotiation of terms and conditions. Flexibility is absolutely necessary to get the business these days, including for instance more flexible cancellation terms. And clients tend to expect the same value at a lower budget than before.

Difficult times for agencies. This results in some agency consolidation, or even some agencies doing work for free just to show cash flow and retain clients! Sadly, we also see redundancies.

Exchange rate. On top of these difficulties, the strong Euro vs Pound exchange rate makes budgets even tighter when considering an event in Spain.

Shorter and closer to home. This could be good news for Spain: the trend is to organise more events in short haul destinations vs long haul. Events are also getting shorter.

Sustainability matters. Carbon Footprint is still high on the agenda, with 36% of corporates having a CSR policy for Events: suppliers need to demonstrate CSR credentials in pitch, and there is growing interest in Carbon-considerate destinations/hotels, venues and other suppliers

Web-based technology is being increasingly used in events, both to improve the guests experience, and to enable easier planning and lower costs.

ROI. Focus is high on Return on Investment (ROI), as corporates are eager to make sure no budget is badly spent. This will be one hot topic this year.

Content is king! The renovation of event messaging and content is also a priority for many clients. Logistics is important and a good event environment is necessary, but the focus is really on reaching the objectives and making sure the messages are effectively communicated.

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