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3 major trends shaping the evolution of venue services

ICCA has surveyed its venue members on a variety of topics related to operations, internal processes and business development to try to build an evolutionary picture of how trends in the international venues market are developing.
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With over 380 member organisations in the Venue Sector, ICCA’s community of convention centres, hotels, and conference venues located across the globe holds a vast wealth of invaluable information concerning business planning and operational and developmental best practices in venue services.

Every three years, to collect their expertise and perspectives and try to build an evolutionary picture of how trends in the international venue services market are developing, ICCA surveys its venue members on a variety of topics related to operations, internal processes and business development.

As each report is only made available to ICCA Sector Venue members who participated in the survey, we are unable to publish the results from the 2018 survey, our latest version. However, these are some of the major trends identified in this current report, according to the 140 venue members who contributed. Among the respondents, Europe represented the largest region, followed by Asia, North America, South America and Africa/Middle East.

1. ICCA Venue members have achieved a healthy increase in revenue, with a diversification of revenue streams.

Revenue increased by 8-9% in 2018 across a range of areas, such as rental, food and beverage, and technical services. The highest average income is from rental at 45%, followed by F&B (Food and Beverage) at 33%. In addition, other revenue streams such as car parking; hostesses; interpreters; commission; shell schemes; PCO services and furniture rental are now contributing valuable income. Other frequently mentioned new revenue sources include: digital media and signage; sponsorships; ticket commissions; and setting up their own events and exhibitions, among others.

Sources of (new) business are also diversifying and increasing in volume, with in-house sales and direct enquiries forming a large part of results in 2018, with a slight decrease in enquiries from convention bureaus and meetings ambassadors. 

The types of events venue members are hosting have also diversified: association and corporate meetings still represent the majority of business, but the non-profit sector and other types of event – including social events such as weddings – have seen an increase. These positive results indicate a highly commercialised approach with a heavy dose of innovation included, which is necessary to meet the challenge of staying up-to-date in today’s highly competitive market.

2. Digitalisation continues, with technology forming a larger part of service provision and business development.

More than 60% of venues include free WiFi in the price for exhibition hall rental, with nearly half offering a bandwidth of 5 Mbps or more. Venue members also named several new technologies as having an influence on how they generate new business, such as:

  • Digital marketing
  • Database, CRM and other Big Data tools
  • High-speed in-house WiFi
  • Online offer system and site visits
  • Interactive maps
  • Social media presence

However, rather than converting into direct sales, respondents reported that social media marketing is currently proving to be used most effectively to raise awareness, share expertise and increase community engagement. Three quarters of venues coordinate social media in-house, with it taking up over a quarter of marketing strategy focus. Paid social media marketing is employed by over 60% of respondents.

As highlighted before, the competitive nature of this sector means all centres need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to anticipating client requirements – digitalising services is often key to making this a success! ICCA Venue members are well aware of this need: with 70% planning refurbishments and 35% new constructions or remodelling in the near future, adding new technology is among the most popular items named for refurbishment, alteration or expansion.

3. Sustainability is of increasing concern. Venues are implementing procedures to reduce their environmental impact.

ICCA Venue members are taking sustainability seriously, and many have adopted or achieved accreditations to demonstrate their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Respondents listed a huge range of such programmes they take part in, mostly influenced by the fact different countries and regions have their own systems of accreditation. Some of the most frequently quoted ones include:

  • ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management system
  • ISO 14001
  • ISO 9001
  • Green Meeting certification
  • Green Globe

Respondents also employ a variety of environmental initiatives in-house. Overwhelmingly, energy saving devices, waste management systems, and using local food suppliers are the most popular, with over 80% of venues using these methods when going green. Over 60% employ water management initiatives and over 40% use green power sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Innovations in catering are also increasingly geared towards being sustainable. Including local produce in food and beverage offerings is especially prominent, with nearly 86% indicating they do offer this option to clients.

Thank you to the ICCA Sector Venue members who took part in this survey, and a huge thank you to Sally Greenhill from The Right Solution for coordinating and compiling the full 2018 report.

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