Peter Heath, founder Venue Performance, reports on a rocky period of readjustment for the meetings and events world.
“By and large, things are not as wonderful as everybody thought they would be this year, but if you think about it logically, it was always going to happen. So it’s not bad. It’s just a calming, a levelling, returning to a bit of a rhythm. And a little bit of what went up must come down.
“But we are experiencing a disconnect as we experience this because many budgets were written based on the trading we saw last year. So really, what we are hearing is that businesses are not performing as well as they 'want' them to perform. However, you’re probably performing as well as you could have expected, so there is some comfort in that.
“M&E venues will have to cut their cloth accordingly. Unlike a hotel, where the lights have to stay on no matter how many guests you have. With M&E venues, you can be more flexible with the ebb and flow of the market. As a result, venues have a better opportunity to be more nimble when it comes to overheads and costs.
“The first quarter was rescued by a spike in March after a challenging January and February. Then, however, we had Easter in April, which will always mean a dip, and then there were the three May bank holidays, alongside a series of rail strikes. So the second quarter will likely be tricky unless it is rescued by June.
“And again, summer is quiet, but we might get a boost from September, and then I expect October, November and December will be quite healthy, even though it’s a tough year. There are signs that Christmas is going to be better, certainly better than it was last year. Will Christmas ever be back fully - to 2019 levels? Not in the foreseeable future, but it might be a lot better. So, in general, a very choppy 2023, but things are going to look a lot better in 2024.”