Last time, in this introduction I talked about the importance of those in the unique and unusual venue category taking more of a leadership role, and making the transition from ‘new kids on the block’ to the established norm within the industry. I was also delighted to hear the comments of so many industry leaders about the unusual venue sector, from its role as a reason to have meetings in Britain, to its high standards and professionalism. It only underlines the appetite the industry has for this market, and we’re delighted to present this report again.
Welcome to the second edition of the now award winning Lime Venue Portfolio’s Unique & Unusual Market Report; our 2.0 edition if you will.
The subject of standards is one very close to my heart, and it’s something we strive for every day throughout the portfolio. I was therefore delighted to see that the sector most often choosing unusual venues is the corporate audience. This is really significant for all of us. As a brand, we have long been a cheerleader for ‘better’ meetings, and for those organisers who, by choosing a special venue, are already seeking to elevate the impact of their event. It should be no surprise that brands look to our venues to make a statement for their business from the word go.
One of the other statistics that struck me in reading the 2018 UKCAMS report this year was the popularity unusual venues have amongst ‘local’ audiences. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that people want an experience that highlights its locality; businesses have a sense of pride in their local icons – be they sporting or cultural. However, this locality shouldn’t be misunderstood as ‘regional’. In an industry that is global in nature, we should remember that UK businesses want a ‘local’ venue as well, be it the home of England Rugby or a former seat of a Queen.
Our business has roots firmly in the UK but, as we look to take on more of a leadership profile, those in the UK should look abroad for inspiration. I read with interest the ibtm World Trends Report and, throughout every territory on the planet, meetings, events and incentive programmes are looking to move from operationally-led to creatively-led; from event to experience.
This should excite us in the unusual venue market. We stand for experience, and it’s shown in this 2018 UKCAMS report that we’re becoming a close ally to brands. We therefore absolutely represent event organisers who want to make memories as well as meetings.
Of course, everything is unique, no two things are exactly unique. At Lime Venue Portfolio, what we define as unique is something that stands apart from convention. Our portfolio is recognized for how different it is from 'the norm' the classic purpose built conference centre or hotel group, regardless of how exceptional the standards are within.
Unique to us is something arresting, with individualism and personality, something outside of convention, defined by its difference. A place apart from others.
In our mind, the unusual is always a good thing. In a world of disruption, extra dynamic markets and creativity, we’re increasingly attracted to the unusual. Unusual is also rare, pleasantly surprising, and rewarding. Unusual is often unique, and vice versa.
This report is built around specific data found in the UK Conference and Meeting Survey, using its most recent report (June 2018), as well as previous historic data.
The UK Conference and Meeting Survey (UKCAMS) seeks to:
- Measure the key characteristics of the UK conference and meetings market from a venue perspective
- Provide the best possible estimates for volume and value aspects of the market
It is worth putting into context the findings found in this report by picking out some of the wider market trends taking place across the industry.
ESTIMATED WORTH OF THE CONFERENCE & MEETINGS MARKET TO THE UK ECONOMY
CONFERENCES & MEETINGS IN 20170
meetings per venue0%
OF CONFERENCES & MEETINGS ACCOUNTED FOR BY THE CORPORATE SECTOR0m
of venues indicated that business was on the up
The continual changes in the meetings and conference world make it all the more important that we monitor and research the effectiveness of these changes and keep abreast of new and emerging trends. One of the recent trends identified by Lime Venue Portfolio is that of ‘event convergence’, where two or more existing events combine to create a bigger and more all-encompassing super-event. It’s also known in the industry as the ‘less is more’ trend, and is part of a wider move by event organisers to create one brilliant event in exchange for five reasonable events. It is interesting to see that the 2018 UKCAMS research findings add credence to this trend with venues reporting fewer but larger events staged in 2017.
The ‘UK Conference and Meeting Survey’ (UKCAMS) provides crucial market intelligence on the UK meetings and conference sector, covering volume and value and key trends data from a supply-side or venue perspective. The research has been undertaken annually since 1993 and has established a high profile for the integrity and consistency of its findings. It provides the estimate for the value of the UK conference and meetings sector, currently £18.1 billion, used by the Business Visits and Events Partnership and many other bodies.
Unusual and unique venues are a major contributor to the UKCAMS research programme, representing an estimated 30 per cent of the universe of 3,500 primary conference and meeting venues used as the basis for the research. Participating venues cover a broad spectrum of unusual and unique venues, such as sports stadia, zoos, ships, theatres, castles, racecourses, visitor attractions, museums, distilleries, guildhalls, wineries and many more.
While, by definition, conferences and meetings are not the main business focus of unusual venues, such venues are nevertheless major players in the meetings sector. In 2017 they staged 18 per cent of the estimated 1.29 million conferences and meetings taking place in the UK. They are second only to hotels in terms of their market share, on a par with dedicated conference and training centres.
The research reveals that unusual venues staged an annual average of 243 conferences and meetings over the period 2015-2017. The events that they host average 1.7 days’ duration, slightly longer than equivalent events held in hotels. And, interestingly, a higher proportion of their business (75 per cent) is generated from the region in which they are located than for any other type of venue.
Unusual venues are popular for corporate events, accounting for almost half of unusual venues’ business in 2015-2017, but are also well used by government and public sector bodies (35 per cent of their business) and associations (18 per cent). The average size of events hosted is 105 delegates, which means that unusual venues rank second only to purpose-built convention centres in attracting larger events.
So what is it that gives unusual and unique venues their particular appeal? It is undoubtedly the case that event organisers are seeking venues that offer much more of an experience and they are using the draw of the venue to attract delegates to their events. As a consequence, venues that offer more than just conference space are high on their shortlist. Unusual venues can frequently offer the ‘wow’ factor with unique, memorable experiences which cannot be duplicated in any other types of venue.
It is clear that businesses believe in the value of face-to-face interactions through meetings with their customers, their suppliers, and their staff. When the market is buoyant, there is confidence to invest more strongly in meetings, conferences and similar business events. As premium venues, the unique and unusual venues’ sector of the market can justify higher production values for the events they stage, as organisers seek to maximise the memorable experiences such venues can offer.
If you would like to find out more from the full UKCAMS report visit: www.ukcams.org.uk
Children move through different stages of learning. Babies learn through exploring their senses. Through colour, sound, physical stimulus. After the age of two, toddlers learn in the same way, but they have the ability to apply logic and reason. After the age of seven children are able to start considering external factors and emotions and thus their reasoning and logic continues to develop.
This means that with younger children we need to educate them in ways that are personalised to them but as they grow they are educated through channels that help them make sense of the world around them.
Young children also learn holistically, so providing they have active sensory development there is no need to separate their learning into subject groups. We just need to ensure there is creative play available to develop their language, logic, imagination and communication skills.
The biggest change as we get older isn't the way that we learn it is the way we interpret and understand our education. Adults have an ability to apply a number of social and external factors to their learning. We have a wealth of experience to draw upon but we also have a great number of preconceived ideas on how that message will affect us.
A creative learning environment for an adult draws on our understanding of education through the senses but respects that we require the external environment and factors to mirror those messages as our brains are too mature to not consider all aspects of our experience.
Enter the unusual venue market. Not only is it less work and usually cost effective to use a venue that already enhances your messaging, it is
key to enforcing the event objectives from day one. Using a venue that the audience associate with positive sensory experiences will help them both better retain information and remember the learning as a time they were happy.
People accept event invitations both on the content and expectations of learning, but also on the perceived experience. You are far more likely to accept an exhibition invitation to the Victoria and Albert Museum than you are to another hotel conference room. The hotel conference room sets the tone of the sort of event it will be before you have even agreed to attend. Besides, what would you instagram?
The bizarre thing about the conference and meetings industry is we wouldn’t ask a nursery group to sit in straight rows facing forwards while one person talked to them for an hour. How could you ever expect their brains and short attention spans to learn from that format? Do we respond to conferencing as adults or are we told that is the new grown up format for learning? Surely the best way to learn is to still go in and do it yourself.
Unusual venues also help adult learners to feel safe within their education. You’re far more likely to play ball on a murder mystery night if you’re in a haunted castle than you are in a standard conference room. It makes the learner feel less silly as they are fully immersed in the experience. It’s why many actors come to light on stage but struggle with improvisation at the local town hall.
Budgets, management and a whole host of external factors block our ability to create unusual experiences in unusual venues. Yet if we can successfully argue the logic of education retention in a creative setting, there really isn’t a reason not to try it out.
Have you seen an increase in confirmed business 2018 v. 2017 to date? How would you rate it?
In which sectors of the market have you seen most growth?
Have you seen more of these event sectors combining e.g. incentives with conferences, conferences with banquets etc.?
Have you seen an increase in external agencies or individuals getting involved on a creative / production level?
Have you seen an increase or decrease in lead times for event bookings?
Are you seeing more evidence of an increase in the importance of food at events?
Do you believe the unusual venue market has become the usual now?
Are you optimistic about the next 12 months for the unique and unusual venue market?
The unique and unusual venue market attracts a great deal of warmth from event professionals; why wouldn't it, it encompasses the UK's heritage, its culture and it's hobbies. And, despite the fact that hotels and conference centres hold the volume, it's this sector that holds the value, and that remains the promotional focal point for the country's meetings and events industry.
So maybe it's time for this sector to grow in confidence, grow in stature and continue to grow it's dominance within the events industry. It's no longer a 'nice to have', it's now a 'must have'. It's no longer a plucky contributor, it's an integral part of the venue landscape.
Who knows where the industry would be without unique and unusual venues? They give new reasons to have events, they stimulate creative organisers, they sell the industry and they provide a contemporary image of it. Great people are working within unique and unusual venues every day; important event professionals are commenting on them, and holding them up as examples of best practice, many are in this report.
At Lime Venue Portfolio we'll continue to play our role as one of the big supporters in this sector. This report is the just the beggining and we'll continue to provide updates and more insights from senior commentators in this industry. Until then, please let us know your own thoughts; submit video, blogs, comments and opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add them to the report and share them with our community.
New data is released later this year, so look out for more updates!Thanks for readingBack to the Top