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'Unrealistic' rates from leisure venues threaten growth, study says

PricewaterhouseCoopers, HBAA and Conference Centres of Excellence report highlights competition concerns

Pictured: HBAA executive director Juliet Price

Renewed optimism among venues and agencies is tempered by concerns over weak economic growth and increased competition from 'secondary stream' venues, according to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) and Conference Centres of Excellence.

The survey of more than 80 agencies and venues, released this week, found 86 per cent of respondents were more optimistic than six months previously.

However, 82 per cent listed fragile economic recovery among the top three biggest obstacles facing the industry. Half of the respondents identified procurement and the RFP process among the top three.

The results also highlighted concerns that increased competition from ‘secondary stream’ venues whose core business is the provision of leisure facilities has resulted in ‘unrealistic’ and ‘unmatchable’ rates.

A further 32 per cent of respondents identified ‘structural issues’ such as changes in meeting trends as one of the biggest obstacles, and 20 per cent selected technology-based issues.

Yet, the future looks bright for trading in 2014, with 80 per cent feeling ‘more optimistic’.

Juliet Price, executive director of the HBAA, said: “The economy has dominated the thoughts and worries of the event industry in the last half-decade, and although it remains a concern for venues and agencies, it’s great to see that as a sector, we are becoming more optimistic about the future of business trading. The survey results are especially important in understanding where the concerns of our members lie so that the Association can offer support and look for solutions accordingly.”

Conference Centres of Excellence’s executive director Anthony Lishman added: “Maintaining a strong focus on the overall customer experience - pre, during and post-event - will remain top priorities into 2014.”

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