1.1. Size and Scope of Conference and Banqueting in the UK
In the context of hospitality management in the UK, a conference relates to a meeting conducted out of the office for at least six hours. Additionally, such a meeting involves a minimum of 15 intellectuals (Cousins, Pennington & Foskett 2011). The fragmented nature of the UK hospitality management industry led to the recognition of the conference and banqueting fraternity in the country. Many facilities, especially hotels are applicable when conducting conferences in the UK (Davis 2012). The scope of the conference and banqueting industry incorporates various elements. Such elements include competitive price ranges, provision of high-quality food and beverages, provision of flexible facilities, upselling in some instances, and guaranteeing the quality of the faculties. Moreover, attention to detail and meeting the requirements of the delegates of a conference is extremely vital in the conference and banqueting industry (Li, Gray, Lockwood & Buhalis 2013). As Figure 1 depicts, the UK gets many visitors in subsequent years, and this means that the size of the conference and banqueting industry is a multi-billion industry. The visitors and the British locals have the propensity to hold numerous out of office meetings for elongated durations.
Figure 1: UK Visits in 2014 Courtesy of visitbritain.org
The UK Conference and Banqueting market is worth more than £20 billion per annum and this valuation consistently rises in subsequent years (Poulston 2011). More intently, the UK hosts more than one million business events in a single year, and the average number of events per venue in the hospitality management sector is about 400. The conference and banqueting industry is a lucrative venture in the UK because the country is an extremely attractive meeting venue for all delegates in the world. Provision of food and drink comes into play with the numerous conferences in the UK, and this makes the banqueting aspect to be of extreme vitality (Rogers 2013). Figure 2 depicts the buyers and suppliers linked to the conference and banqueting fraternity.
Figure 2: Buyers and Suppliers in the Conference and Banqueting Fraternity Courtesy of the British Conference Market Trends Survey (BCMTS)
The Conference and Banqueting industry requires managers to cater for the room layout styles. Moreover, they ought to provide for the delegates, the speakers, the time spans, and in some cases, the requirements are unique in each instance (Rousaki & Alcott 2006). The staff in the respective venues also plays a critical role, and figure 3 depicts an example of an organizational structure in a hotel conference and banqueting company. The nature of the conference and banqueting industry depends heavily on the staffing framework in a particular venue. More precisely, this industry is labor intensive, and the quality of the conference and banqueting service is extremely dependent on the staff in a particular place (Watson 2008). The service standards that the team can achieve will set the benchmark for the dynamics of the conference and banqueting fraternity in Great Britain. Overall, the conference and banqueting industry is a multi-billion industry in the UK. Additionally, its scope incorporates food and beverage services, expert services, venues that are mostly hotels, and accommodation services, and so forth. Market researchers project subsequent growth in the size and scope of the conference and banqueting industry in The UK (Davis 2012).
Figure 3: An Organizational Structure for a Conference and Banqueting Entity
1.2. Analysis of the Different Influences That Have Shaped the Industry (PESTLE)
In all industries, the aspects of political stability advocate the progress and lucrativeness of these respective industries. More precisely, the conference and banqueting industry in the UK cannot flourish if there is a deficiency in political goodwill. The political inclinations in the UK influence the number of delegates that will be willing to hold conferences and utilize banqueting services in the country (Cousins, Pennington & Foskett 2011). More intently, the business travellers are extremely sensitive on matters that concern political instability in a state. The elements linked to the political aspect include the taxation regulations, trade restrictions, the environmental laws, the labor laws, and so forth. For example, the Northern Ireland locale experienced a delicate political scenario attributed to the devolution of the government in this particular region (Li, Gray, Lockwood & Buhalis 2013). Such political milestones may influence the decisions of prospective delegates who intend to hold their conferences in various venues in the UK.
Another critical component in the political sector is the taxation policies, and aspects such as VAT will influence the number of delegates willing to hold conferences in The UK (Poulston 2011). The cost is of extreme importance in all meeting scenarios including conference and banqueting events. Thus, if the taxation policies in place cause the conference costs to accelerate the delegates might refrain from holding conferences in the UK. Additionally, the security in the UK will immensely influence the conference and banqueting fraternity in the country (Rogers 2013). For instance, the terrorist attacks in London in the year 2005 had a catastrophic effect on the conference and banqueting fraternity in the UK. Such events reduce the number of visitors willing to visit the UK in a particular year. Furthermore, under the political scope the elements of the UK exiting the EU also come into play. Other European countries might view Britain as a solitary nation, and this may cause them to refrain from holding conferences in the UK (Rousaki & Alcott 2006). In the end, the effect on the conference and banqueting industry is extremely adverse. Moreover, the imposition of sanctions by Britain on Russia may also affect the conference and banqueting fraternity in an immense manner. Overall, political stability is critical to the success of the conference and banqueting industry, and it contributes immensely to shaping this particular industry.
The macroeconomic environment in the UK will influence the conference and banqueting industry in an immense manner. Aspects such as the foreign direct investment (FDI) are extremely vital in matters concerning the conference and banqueting industry (Watson 2008). More precisely, if the value of foreign direct investments is the conference and banqueting industry will drastically expand. Coupled with high FDIs is a diversified conference and banqueting fraternity in the UK. Economic growth in the UK influences the conference and banqueting services, and the demand and supply models of the business highlight significant changes because of the economic factors (Davis 2012). Such factors include interest rates, consumers’ disposable income, the exchange rates of the GBP, price and distribution frameworks, economic systems, and so forth.
The 2008 financial recession affected the conference and banqueting fraternity in the UK. To date, the UK still experiences many significant challenges in her economy, and financial analysts are not ruling out the possibility of another financial crisis in the UK (Rogers 2013). Such scenarios affect the conference and banqueting fraternity in an immense manner. Important to note, is that the exchange rates of the GBP with other urgencies such as the US Dollar and the Euro also affect the conference and banqueting fraternity in the UK. Moreover, the inflation rates also come into play, and these rates will have an impact on the performance of the conference and banqueting industry in the UK (Poulston 2011).
The social perspective of the market must be favorable for the conference and banqueting industry to flourish. The cultural trends, demographics, and the population dynamics will influence the behaviors among business travellers, and the respective delegates in the UK and outside the UK (Rousaki & Alcott 2006). The UK is a suitable destination for all delegates worldwide, and this guarantees consistency in the growth of the conference and banqueting industry. Moreover, the lifestyle of delegates, the enhanced use of social media platforms, and the use of celebrity endorsements in favor of various venues in the UK are critical. Such factors cause the conference and banqueting industry to flourish (Li, Gray, Lockwood & Buhalis 2013). For instance, many delegates from emerging economies such as India and China frequently prefer the UK as an excellent venue for their meetings, and this enhances the conference and banqueting fraternity in an immense manner.
The rates of technological growth, research and development activities, enhanced information communication technology frameworks, and improved booking procedures available online influence the conference and banqueting fraternity in the UK. For the UK to obtain a competitive advantage in the conference and banqueting industry there ought to be significant enhancements of the ICT frameworks (Davis 2012). Conference and banqueting venues, which are tech-savvy, highlight extremely high levels of efficiency and they do not exhibit any inconveniences attributed to geographical limitations. Important to note, is that the level of competition in the venues offering conference and banqueting services skyrockets every single day. Thus, the venue UK ought to embrace technology to enhance efficiency and add value to the delegates (Cousins, Pennington & Foskett 2011). Overall, tech-savvy venues are the real deal to the respective delegates in the UK and other countries.
The UK geographical position, the climate and weather patterns, and sustainability initiatives in the country will immensely influence the conference and banqueting industry. Going green is a big deal to many delegates in the UK and other countries. Moreover, it is crucial for conferencing and banqueting venues especially hotels to nurture practices that certify the elements of sustainability (Rogers 2013). For instance, the hospitality industry in the UK faces massive criticism because of being notorious in polluting the historical sites, beaches, and other tourist attractions. A brand that embraces the environment gains favor among the delegates and the UK does not take a back seat in matters of safeguarding the environment and going green (Poulston 2011). In doing this, the UK enhances its brand image and the conference and hospitality industry flourishes.
The UK immigration rules may affect the conference and banqueting industry, especially where there is an involvement of delegates from other countries. Additionally, the policies related to the protection of consumers (delegates) may influence the performance of the conference and banqueting fraternity in the UK (Davis 2012). Aspects such as the consumer laws, labor regulations, and safety standards will influence the conference and banqueting industry. Important to note, is that sometimes getting a UK visa might be extremely challenging and this may reduce the number of delegates holding conferences in the UK.
The conference and banqueting fraternity continually highlights a broadening delegate base, and in the future, it this is persistent the industry might become saturated. More intently, the ventures in the conference and banqueting industry in the UK should ensure their endeavors advocate re-inventing uniqueness to encourage delegates to hold more conferences in The UK (Rogers 2013). There ought to be an in-depth research focused towards establishing the main trends occurring in the conference and banqueting industry, and such research enables the formulation of sufficient goals and strategies.
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Davis, B., 2012. Food and Beverage Management, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge
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Poulston, J., 2011. Council for Hospitality Management Education Conference, Horsley Park, Surrey, UK, 5-7 May 2010. Hospitality & Society, 1(1), pp.99-105.
Rogers, T 2013, Conferences and Conventions: A Global Industry, London: Routledge.
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