New tool reveals the best performing event agencies

Exhibition and conference producer ITE Group achieved the highest gross profit out of 200 agencies in 2012 09/04/2014 Pictured: M&IT’s new Event Agency Analytics online database offers real-time information

The top five performing event agencies in the UK recorded a combined gross profit of more than £245m in 2012, having enjoyed collective growth of more than 18 per cent on the previous year.

The figures are revealed by M&IT’s new Event Agency Analytics online real-time database that aggregates and compares Companies House financial data for more than 200 meetings and events companies.

London-based ITE Group, which produces 230 annual exhibitions and conferences worldwide, filed the highest gross profit of £77.6m – head and shoulders above the industry average of £7.8m. Carlson Wagonlit UK ranked second with £67.5m, followed by Reed Exhibitions (£40.5m), The Grass Roots Group UK (£30.7m) and Motivcom (£29.3m).

Other key performance indicators by which companies are ranked include gross profit margin, total net assets, turnover, profit before taxation, staff costs and staff numbers. This enables the user to benchmark agencies’ trading performance over the past three years, keep track of which agencies are growing and which are shrinking, which is charging the highest gross profit, which have the strongest balance sheet. The data is constantly updated, providing current data 365 days of the year, and users can create bespoke reports.

League tables show Carlson Wagonlit is the number one employer in the industry with 1,251 staff members employed in the UK, compared with an industry average of 160 people, while IIR Exhibitions (a subsidiary of Informa PLC) boasts the highest amount of net assets out of all the agencies, at £272m. The industry average is £5.2m.

Event Agency Analytics will be useful to corporate and association buyers looking to recruit third parties to organise their events, agencies so that management can benchmark their performance against competitive sets and suppliers so that they can identify which agencies they should target for business.

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How to… win medical association bids

Bidding for and winning an international medical association conference takes a lot of strategising and financial backing. National associations may be keen to host the conference but lack the resources and expertise. So convention bureaus play a key role. Recognising the economic multiplier effect, they often lead the charge, along with  professional associations.

Melbourne is hosting the 20th International Aids Conference (AIDS 2014) from July 20-25, expected to draw some 14,000 delegates. Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) first engaged the International AIDS Society in 1997 and maintained regular contact to cement the city as a contender to host the biennial conference. Meantime, it shored up local support and capability.

MCB CEO Karen Bolinger says: “MCB prides itself on working collaboratively with industry partners to secure major international association conferences for Melbourne, which is often cited by our clients as key to our success.”

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) will return to Perth in May 2015, mainly through Perth Convention Bureau (PCB) leveraging its long-standing relationship with RACS through substantial promotion and touring. It also collaborated with Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on the bid. The event usually attracts some 3,500 surgeons from Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East.

After securing the congress, PCB tapped into the Qantas-Emirates alliance to improve Perth’s accessibility. It then expanded the Perth ASC to include the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh. This could add another 1,000 attendees to make the 2015 event Perth’s largest-ever medical congress.

Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau (SECB), a unit of Singapore Tourism Board, works closely with local associations to bid for international conferences. Among the 200-plus bids SECB is working on, about one-third involve the biomedical industry. In May 2015, Singapore will host the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) Congress – its first in Southeast Asia and expected to attract more than 4,000 physiotherapists.

Tracy Bury, WCPT director professional policy, says: “The bidding process is based on bids submitted from WCPT’s member organisations and is open to all geographical areas.”

Singapore was selected for its accesibility, the flexible   space at Suntec that is large enough to host the event, and the support of the Singapore Physiotherapy Association.


How I did it…   Julia Swanson from Melbourne Convention Bureau
The International AIDS Society (IAS) does not provide criteria when deciding on host cities; rather it approaches destinations that may be suitable. In 2011, Melbourne was invited to bid for AIDS 2014, alongside Istanbul.

MCB worked with the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine. We also worked with Tourism Victoria and City of Melbourne to secure support for the event, and with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AusAid for federal government funding.

Thirty different associations, universities, academics and organisations across Asia Pacific supported the bid. MCB arranged site inspections of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, hotels and venues for the IAS.

To prove the city’s capacity, MCB obtained support from more than 182 hotels. In addition, we worked with the Department of Immigration concerning visas and with the Australian Government to allow delegates’ medicines to be brought into Australia.

How to… win medical association bids