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Opening the booking window


As the days are lengthening, so are booking windows, reports Peter Heath, founder, Venue Performance.


“The market in the UK is seeing a lag at the moment. We’ve been having a tough time, with inflation and high interest rates and these made for a tough January and February, which was rescued, as ever, by a spike in March.


“Bookings were down for January, and then down again for February, but looking forward to the next quarter, I believe that the market is improving, although we are lagging a little in terms of M&E data.


“The sentiment of the market is much higher, because corporate bookers know that, all things being equal, we should see inflation hit its targets in the second half of the year and interest rates go down. For those in charge of budgets, the environment is improving and it’s all systems go for the rest of 2024 when booking gatherings.


“If you look at this quarter compared to last quarter, bookings are up by 14% and revenues up 15%. Lead times are also increasing and the only element which is a blot on the landscape is the size of events, which is down by around 12%, but compensated for by a higher spend. When people get together they don’t just want a room with a projector and some sandwiches, they want more. So everything is lifted apart from the number of delegates, but that's okay.


“We might also be seeing the influence of a change in remote working, with some people no longer attending meetings because they live too far or interest has waned. It’s no longer as crucial or interesting, which may be having an impact on the size.


“Generally speaking, 2024 is looking good and we expect to see the market grow by between 7% and 9% in terms of revenue. We are seeing a lot of the large, dedicated M&E venues reporting strong results and this is a great bellwether for how we expect the wider sector to behave in the rest of the year.”





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