Events and Business Functions in the UK

The events industry is a massive component of the British economy, accounting for a third of UK visitor economy. In 2015, the sector, which is grouped under the service industry, generated revenues in excess of £42 billion, which is equivalent to the annual GDP of Uruguay. The figure actually grows higher if we include indirect spending such as logistics, IT and other support services. The events industry also employs, directly and indirectly, about 570,000 people spread across 25,000 registered event organisers and 10,000 venues.

The events industry, which includes business functions, conferences, meetings, seminars, fundraisers and product or service introductions, among others, draws well over 85 million participants and attendees to more than 1.3 million events held during the previous calendar year. It would be no exaggeration to say that the continued growth and success of the industry is of paramount importance to the health of the hospitality industry as a whole.

In a 2016 report, ticketing specialist Eventbrite surveyed more than 800 industry professionals and concluded that education and training is the most popular reason to hold events (36%), followed closely by networking (30%) and profit generation (30%).

The report also noted that conferences and meetings accounted for a lion's share of the spending with £19.9 billion, with exhibitions and trade fairs a distant second at £11 billion. Corporate events, performance incentives, cultural events and outdoor events are other notable segments of the industry, with each generating approximately a billion pounds each. It should be noted however that trade fairs and exhibitions, which attracted over 13 million visitors annually, bring in long-term recurring income to manufacturers and service providers (including, notably, universities).

The events and meeting industry is poised to grow strongly in the coming years for one simple reason - it is highly effective. The fundraising industry is a great example of this. 67% of organisations involved in fundraising plan on increasing the number of events they hold, because 83% of participants would support similar events in the future. Similarly, 83% of organisers anticipate an increase in the number of hires over the coming years.

Beyond the economic numbers, the industry also contributes positively to the nation in various ways, including education, job excellence and social diversity - both for participants and the greater community.