Meeting Tourism in Spain continues to show signs of good health. Congress activity has grown in the country in 2018 and also its economic impact, which reaches 6,638 million euros, 8% more than the previous year, according to the study of Meeting Tourism in Spain prepared by the Spain Convention Bureau (SCB), which shows a total of 25,804 meetings held and 4,301,803 participants, 3.4% and 7.7% more than in 2017.
Of the total number of events, 51.6% were conferences, 29.6% conventions and 18.8% congresses. In this regard, the 2.9% drop compared to the previous year in congresses and the increases of 5.2% in conferences and 4.5% in conventions stand out. With regard to attendees by type of meeting, 38.5% participated in the conferences, 34.9% in congresses and 26.6% in conventions. In this case, there was an increase of 17.8% in the number of attendees to conferences and 12% in congresses, while the number of convention participants fell by 8.4%.
Regarding the territorial scope of the meetings, the report indicates that 51.3% were national, 25.8% regional and 22.9% international. Regional meetings have grown by 17.1% and international meetings by 3.7%, while national events have fallen by 2.5%. With regard to attendance at these events, national meetings accounted for 44.7% of attendees, international meetings 34.5% and regional meetings 20.7%. Of note was the increase in attendance at international meetings (+19.7%).
Analysing the activity by the size of Spanish cities, in all of them except those with more than one million inhabitants (-11%), the activity has grown, especially in those with between 500,000 and one million inhabitants (+29.1%). In the case of participants by size of city, all variables show positive signs, highlighting those of less than 100,000 inhabitants, where participation has increased by 21.6%, and on the other hand, those of more than one million inhabitants, with a slight growth of 0.3%.
By nationality, 77.3% of those attending the meetings were Spanish and 22.7% foreign. National participants increased by 13.8%, while international participants decreased by 9%. With regard to Spaniards, the most numerous participants came from Madrid (25.1%) and Catalonia (13%), while the United Kingdom (15.5%), Germany (11.5%) and France (11%) stood out among foreigners.
The economic impact generated by congress activity in Spain in 2018 reached 6,638 million euros (+8%), of which 73.6% was produced by the participants themselves in the meetings and 26.4% by those accompanying them. The SCB report details that the average daily expenditure has increased, dedicating 480.66 euros (+31%) for registration, 320.18 euros for travel and 127.41 euros for accommodation. At destination, the distribution of expenditure reached 60.4% for food, 13.2% for internal transport, 12.8% for shopping and 9.7% for leisure and entertainment.
Characteristics of the meetings
The two sectors that have traditionally generated the greatest number of meetings have been medical-sanitary and commercial economic. In 2018 the situation was no different, representing, in the first case, 18% of the events, and in the second 16%, although both sectors have reduced their share by 3.6 percentage points and four points, respectively. They are followed by other sectors such as universities (10.2%), science (8.7%), culture (7.8%) and technology (6.9%). The latter stands out with a growth of 2.6 points with respect to 2017.
The seasonality of the meetings is remarkable, as most of them are held in the spring and autumn months. By percentage, the most events were October (14.4%), May (14.1%), November (11.8%), June (11.2%), April and September (both with 10.3%). On the other hand, the venues that have hosted more meetings have been the rooms of hotels (28.6%), followed by conference centers (24.5%) and universities (19.5%). Hotels maintain similar figures to previous years, although conference centres have fallen eight points over the previous year and universities have risen 4.1 points.
Another aspect reflected in the report is the number of participants per meeting, the most common being meetings of between 50 and 150 attendees (52.8%). Meetings with more than 500 participants, representing 8% of the total, have fallen with respect to 2017. The average duration of a meeting was 2.26 days. The majority (63.1%) of the events were of up to two days, 30.5% of between three and four days and the remaining 6.4% of more than four days. Finally, 90.8% of attendees chose a hotel for their accommodation, with the four-star hotel being the preferred option (69.8%).
Profile of participants
Most of the attendees were men (58.9%) aged between 35 and 44 (40.8%) and who maintained a managerial occupation (32.6%). The means most used to travel to the city holding the meeting was the airplane (49.8%), followed by car (27.5%) and rail (20.1%). Within the city, attendees moved by taxi (28.3%), metro (26.9%) and on foot (20.2%). 22.8% made some additional trip to the meeting, with the Community hosting the meeting being the destination of this trip (51.3%) and its duration of 3.49 days.
Opinion of the destinations
The professionals consulted for the preparation of this study (destinations associated with the Spain Convention Bureau) believe that the increase in the sector in Spain in 2018 is due to the improvement in the economic situation, as well as other factors such as the good supply of Spanish destinations, their communications and the actions undertaken by the local Conventions Bureaus. Other destinations, although few, believe that the congress activity has decreased, mainly due to the holding of smaller meetings.
In general, destinations believe that Meeting Tourism in Spain is in good health thanks to the existing offer, both in infrastructure and complementary offer, and its good positioning at international level, with a variety of destinations that fit the different demands, well connected cities, safe and attractive, and a good value for money. On the other hand, there are some aspects that need to be improved, such as adapting to demand quickly, boosting medium and small destinations, training in the sector and the development of greater promotion.
Finally, most of the professionals consulted believe that the MICE Sector in Spain will continue to grow -or at least remain- in all its variables in 2019.