The costs of running a conference

Written by David Jones

Dec 3, 2022

December 3, 2022

The costs of running a conference rose dramatically in 2022. Not just the obvious costs of venue rental, but particularly the costs of travel, accommodation, and F&B. In fact, according to the Global Travel Forecast published by CWT and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) the final forecast for 2022 is a whopping 48.5% rise in air fares and an 18.5% hike in hotel rates. In 2023 the forecast is slightly better although with increases of 8.4% in air fares and an average 8.2% in hotel rates the picture is still far from rosy. 

It’s a perfect storm for business travel and meetings, with the Ukraine war bringing fuel supply uncertainty, continuing COVID scares, staff shortages and rampant inflation adding to the mix. To add to the pressures Patrick Andersen, CWT’s chief executive confirmed that despite all of these problems “Demand for business travel and meetings is back with a vengeance, of that there is absolutely no doubt”. And with that extra demand prices are sure to rise even more. 

Venue Costs

For those of us who run events in London there’s a chink of light: according to the American Express Global Business Travel Report, hotel prices in the UK capital are expected to rise just 6% in 2023 (compared to 10% in Paris) due to one of Europe’s strongest hotel construction pipelines.

 But venue rates are rising at unprecedented speed (and remember, unlike hotel rates they didn’t noticeably fall during the pandemic). It’s not really a surprise as most of them had their balance sheets devastated during lockdown and they’re now seeing wave of cancellations due to the strikes taking place in the UK this Christmas. Kate Nicholls, chief executive officer of the trade body UKHospitality, said businesses were reporting cancellation rates of as much as 30%, which could blow a £1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) black hole in revenues.

Soaring Flight costs

But the big increase is in flight costs with soaring prices across the board from the major airlines. With prices up by nearly a half compared to last year. 

The inevitable conclusion is that the cost of supporting live events is sure to rise in 2023. But with the benefits of in person meetings far outweighing those of virtual gatherings, we can expect that the industry will continue to grow strongly during the remainder of the decade.

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