Positive revenue forecasts and confirmed future busness provide an optimistic financial outlook for the sector, but more work needs to be done to prepare for the introduction of Martyn’s Law, says the Meetings Industry Association (mia). 

The trade body’s latest quarterly mia Insights report reveals nearly three-quarters (73%) of organisations are forecasting greater revenue in 2024 compared to last year, while 59% are reporting more confirmed future business than they did in January 2023. However, overall costs rose last year by 14%, which 87% are combatting by raising their prices by an average of 10.5%. 

Across the sector, average lead times are now 11 weeks, down from the 15-week average reported in October. Cited reasons for the reduction include long-term confidence being impacted by the continued rail strikes, which have negatively impacted 52% of respondents. In January alone they resulted in an average £37,413 being lost per organisation in cancelled business. 

Almost half (49%) state their organisation’s workforce is now bigger than last year, yet vacancies remain for 72% – an increase of 11% since October. To overcome the shortages, currently only 15% of organisations are offering Returnerships – the government’s return to work scheme for over 50s – compared to 47% who are now employing an apprentice. 

Looking ahead, just half consider themselves prepared for the introduction of Martyn’s Law. Figen Murray OBE, the driving force behind the new legislation and mother of Martyn Hett, who was tragically killed in the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena in May 2017, said: “A key part of the necessary preparations for Martyn’s Law is to create a good security culture with processes clearly communicated to all staff, so it is disappointing to see that 43% are currently unsure if their organisation is prepared.” 

She added: “The terrorist threat picture is complex and ever evolving. While we do not currently know what the new legislation will exactly look like, there’s lots the sector can be doing to ensure their venues are better prepared to protect lives from the horrific impacts and effects of terrorism.” 

Meanwhile, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still in the early stages of being adopted by the sector. It seems 87% of organisations do not currently utilise its capabilities and, those who are, largely use it for copywriting and image generation.  

Chief executive of the mia, Kerrin MacPhie, said: “The mia Insights paint a positive financial picture for the sector with increased revenue forecasts and business on the books. However, there are still a variety of matters that we, as a sector, must keep on the radar. Rail strikes are still impacting the sector and we cannot ignore this in light of the significant evolution of events that we are anticipating taking place over the next 12 months. 

More work clearly needs to be done to prepare for the impending Martyn’s Law, which is why we will be continuing to support the sector with events and guidelines. AI will also be a key topic at our forthcoming mia Summit to help the sector in understanding this technology. We cannot afford to be left behind and need to embrace and start experimenting with its capabilities. 

Similarly, we will be working to support DWP 50PLUS champions to engage with industry and help more to take advantage of Returnerships by highlighting the benefits and facilitating adoption of utilising this government initiative.” 

To download the report, visit https://www.mia-uk.org/Insight-Surveys