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Academic conferences generated £1.9bn spend, says new data

New research into the university and academic conference market has been published today, by Richard Smith of RJS Associates and Tony Rogers Conference & Event Service.

Among the key findings are that academic conferences generated £1.9bn of in-destination spend during 2017, as well as an estimated 15 million delegate days.

The new report, entitled ‘University and Academic Conference Market Trends’, represents the first in a series of reports examining the developments, changes and trends in different types of conference and meeting venue over the past decade. 

It is based on the huge volumes of data that have been collected in this period via the annual ‘UK Conference and Meetings Survey’ (UKCAMS) research. It is designed to complement the national UKCAMS data by providing an in-depth analysis of different venue types on a sector by sector basis.

This report provides a more detailed focus on universities. It looks at the supply of such venues and their different characteristics, as well as the size, value and performance of the academic venue sector by different sub-categories of venue.

The report also contains a number of insights from university conference sales representatives, summarising their current market experiences, and reflecting on changes experienced over recent years.

Some other key findings from the research include:

·         The annual average number of conferences has fluctuated since 2009. Academic venues experienced an increase in 2010 and 2011 but fell back in 2013 and 2014.  They have witnessed some growth in the last couple of years.

·         This trend appears to have been driven by business from the corporate sector which has also fluctuated since 2009 but has shown an increase from 2013.

·         Levels of overnight conference business have also increased from 2013 – reaching a peak in 2017.

Tony Rogers commented: “Academic venues, principally universities, have a long history of staging meetings and training events, but it is really only in the past two to three decades that serious investment has taken place to provide facilities for, and the marketing of, dedicated meeting and conference spaces for hire by external organisations.”

Authors Richard Smith and Tony Rogers also undertake the annual UKCAMS research. Copies of the report are available priced £250 + VAT. Visit to order.