• New research for 2022 highlights that West Midlands hosted four-fifths (78%) of the number of conferences and meetings held pre-pandemic, compared with 73% in the rest of the UK
  • West Midlands welcomed 8.3million delegate visits in 2022, contributing £1.9billion to the regional economy
  • Meetings industry in the West Midlands currently supports 43,000 full-time equivalent jobs

New research into the impact of business events to the West Midlands reveals that the region is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic quicker than the UK average.

In its latest report for the West Midlands Growth Company, data compiled by RJS Associates shows that the region’s business events performance in 2022 – which includes meetings, conferences and events held in the West Midlands – was at approximately 78% of 2019 levels.

This demonstrates a significant recovery when comparing data to the national average of 73% (source: UKCAMS).

Last year, the West Midlands hosted 8.3million local, national and international delegates (82% of 2019 levels) – equating to 11.6million delegate days – at 81,700 business events. The business events sector in the region generated £1.9billion of direct spend, supporting 43,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, said:

“The world meets in the West Midlands. Our business events sector has long been a feather in the region’s cap, thanks to unparalleled connectivity, an outstanding variety of venues, and the warmth, authenticity and expertise of our staff and ambassadors.

“We are encouraged that this latest events data shows that the West Midlands is resiliently spearheading the sector’s reemergence after a period of great difficulty during the pandemic.

“We are determined to use the positive energy from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, coupled with exciting new developments, to ensure that organisers continue to pick the West Midlands, as our events sector completes its recovery.”

With a full calendar of events now back at major West Midlands venues including the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) – part of the NEC Group – it is expected that the region’s business events sector will return to normal during the 2023/24 financial year.

Ian Taylor, Managing Director for Conventions & Exhibitions at the NEC Group, said:

“The MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) sector is an integral part of our business across NEC Group venues including the NEC, ICC and Vox Conference Venue.

“We’ve seen a strong appetite for events of this kind in the past year, with the ICC having hosted more than 400 in the last 12 months, welcoming over 350,000 visitors from around the globe to the West Midlands.

“As the leading venue operator in the West Midlands, we believe it’s important for the region to continually invest in its facilities to make sure it remains the destination of choice when it comes to hosting business tourism events.”

New openings and redevelopments across the West Midlands’ events and exhibitions sector during the past 12 months include the multi-million-pound refurbishment of The Halls in Wolverhampton, which opened in May. Leonardo Royal Hotel – with 20 meetings and events spaces – underwent a £8million redesign and rebrand from Jury’s Inn Birmingham before relaunching in April. Conferences, team away days and private parties at the Black Country Living Museum have been enriched by the attraction’s new 1940s-1960s high street, which was unveiled this summer. New events space and meeting rooms are now available following the transformation of 10 Brindleyplace in Birmingham.

In the coming months, Switch Hospitality Management will launch Aparthotel Birmingham on the site of the former Royal Angus Hotel in Snowhill and the newly refurbished Nitenite hotel in the centre of the city. Work is also being carried out on a new £6million entertainment and events Box Space in the west of Wolverhampton city centre.

Tim Johnson, Chief Executive at the City of Wolverhampton Council, said:

“Thanks to major investment in a new city Interchange, Wolverhampton has excellent transport links to an array of conference, exhibition and event venues.

“The city has staged several landmark events over the last 18 months including the start and finish of the Commonwealth Games road cycling time trials, the prestigious British Art Show 9 at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and University of Wolverhampton, and the reopening of the iconic entertainment venue The Halls Wolverhampton.

“With our focus very much set on the future and working closely with partners, the council has a plan that not only involves Wolverhampton hosting major national and international events, exhibitions and conferences to boost the regional economy - but being able to do so with an improved infrastructure of facilities, including more venues and hotels.”

It was recently announced that Birmingham will be host city for the 18th edition of the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit (7-11 April 2024, the ICC), bringing together more than 1,500 global sports business leaders and key decision makers.