Elevated view of the headrow and Leeds Town Hall at night


ConferenceLeeds industry predictions for 2018

After another successful year for Leeds, with the city welcoming 27.29 million tourism visits in 2016, (STEAM 2017) and hosting a record number of international association meetings in 2016 (ICCA), ConferenceLeeds looks towards 2018 and the trends the conference market is likely to see over the next 12 months.

Head of ConferenceLeeds, Jennifer Young, commented:

As always, quality will be front of mind for conference organisers, as well as for the delegates attending. With such a vast amount of choice on offer when it comes to venues and the services that they offer, it’s essential that high standards are maintained across all aspects of an event. This is reflected in the recent British Meetings and Events Industry Survey (BMEIS) 2017, with both quality of food and service amongst the top ten key influencing factors for venue and destination selection. Interestingly both of these factors were deemed more of a priority than the overall conference facilities themselves, so with this in mind it is important that conference venues ensure that their catering is exceptional. It is not only one of the largest expenses when putting on an event, but it also give delegates the time to discuss ideas and network – which is vital for the success of a conference.

British food
Specifically on the topic of catering, it’s important for organisers to note that British is a key food trend across the board, not just in foodservice, and we’d expect this to continue as we draw closer to Brexit. Consumers, and therefore delegates, are more mindful of where their food comes from and more forthcoming in supporting British produce, and this should be considered when planning a conference.

It’s also important to create the right atmosphere with food, and one way to do this is to take inspiration from a conference’s location. Many of our venues in Leeds already do this through offering regional dishes or by using local ingredients.

With price, value for money and access all appearing within the top 10 factors in the BMEIS 2017 survey results, location as a whole is something that we’re expecting to see become more of a focus over the next 12 months. Transport links, affordability and again, the quality of what’s on offer need to be viewed as a whole package, so that organisers can see the overall benefit in bringing a conference to a specific destination, and the added value it provides. In Leeds, we’re fortunate to have excellent access to major airports and train links, as well as offer big city space which can be more affordable than other major locations.”