A third of convention bureaux suffer public sector funding cuts

One in three convention bureaux suffered public-sector funding cuts over the last 12 months, according to a new report into the effect of the pandemic on the meetings industry.

Job losses were another factor vexing bureaux, with a quarter having to lay off staff, not replace staff who were already due to leave, or else lose staff to other government departments.

Some 134 bureaux from 33 countries were surveyed for the report – The Impacts of the Pandemic on Convention Bureaus in Europe – by industry expert Rob Davidson, from Mice Knowledge.

The results paint a mixed picture for the industry across the continent.

Of those who had seen falls in government funding, 52 per cent who gave further details (19 out of 36) said income from this source had declined by 30 per cent or more.

More than three quarters of the 130 bureaux surveyed who received funding from the private sector/ members said this source of income had been diminished in the last year.

And of those who gave details of the scale of cuts, more than half (28 out of 50) had seen reductions of more than 50 per cent, with three bureaux experiencing cuts of 90 per cent.

Meanwhile more than 15 per cent (21) of bureaux said they had ‘stopped or severely reduced’ their bidding activity, as associations grappled with the uncertainty of planning events.

But the picture was perhaps not as grave as might have been expected.

Overall, most bureaux maintained their headcount, for example, or, in some cases, even increased it.

And while the pandemic has clearly squeezed budgets, roughly a fifth of respondents who received public sector funding enjoyed spending increases from this source.

And happily, 76 per cent of respondents were ‘optimistic of very optimistic’ about their future.

Davidson says: “The general picture to emerge from this survey is one of European convention bureaux working hard to support their destinations by innovating and adapting to the immense challenges now facing them. Many are doing so with fewer resources, whether staffing or funding, and in the face of continuing uncertainty about the length of pandemic.”



The report’s author Rob Davidson will be speaking to AMI Editor James Lancaster in more detail about his findings in the next edition of the Deep Dive podcast.

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