Brexit: Opportunity for university conference departments?

Despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the UK events industry shows positive signs of growth with delegate numbers increasing

Most, if not all, universities in the UK provide conference and events facilities. Marketed externally, these are an essential revenue stream. Eventbrite, a platform that allows organisers to plan and promote their events, calculates the industry’s value at £42.3bn and says over 1.3 million business events are held annually. It conducted a survey of 800 event professionals this year and published some encouraging statistics:

The average spend for medium to large businesses per event is £119,655, a huge increase on last year (£67,379)

65% of organisers expect their events to grow in 2017 and 56% plan on launching new events

22% of all organisers expect their budgets to increase this year

Following the referendum and subsequent vote to leave, Brexit has lowered the value of sterling. This makes the UK attractive for hosting international events and conferences as it becomes more cost effective. 

In fact, many in the conference industry believe that 2017 is a year of opportunity, so universities might be well-advised to brace themselves for an influx of enquiries from overseas event organisers.

However, the conference industry is changing as well as growing, attendees are more demanding, increasingly looking for premium facilities delivered sustainably. Universities need to embrace this. According to Eventbrite there are over 10,000 venues in this country, so competition is rife. One way universities can deliver premium facilities, while simultaneously improving their environmental credentials, is by investing in a mains-fed drinking water dispenser system such as BRITA Vivreau’s Table Water Bottling System, as opposed to bringing in and stocking pre-bottled water. 

By purifying water in-house, the university can eliminate the need to purchase plastic or glass bottles meaning no more emissions from delivery and disposal, no more packaging waste and substantial cost reductions. 

The Table Water Bottling System provides unlimited quantities of high-quality chilled still and sparkling drinking water on tap. BRITA Vivreau also supplies attractive reusable designer glass bottles which can be branded with the university logo to make a strong impression on event attendees. The bottles can also feature an environmental message on the back, driving home the university’s commitment to sustainability.

The University of Strathclyde is taking advantage of the Table Water Bottling System. “It considerably reduces packaging waste and the costs of removing that waste,” said Catering Manager June Hayes. “We no longer need to order plastic bottles, process their delivery or find space to store them. Instead we can quickly offer chilled still or sparkling water in professional-looking, reusable, branded glass bottles thanks to BRITA Vivreau.”

BRITA Vivreau also offers a mains-fed water dispenser called the ViTap, which is ideal for self-service points throughout the campus for students, visitors and staff. Sleek and stylish, it provides instant chilled still or sparkling water and even boiling hot water. Touch sensor controls facilitate easy self-service operation, and it can also come with the Equality Access Pad to allow access for wheelchair users. 

The University of Manchester opted to install the Table Water Bottling System and ViTap. Jonathan Minshull, Head of Catering Operations, said: “Conference delegates now expect filtered water. Being able to offer the Table Water Bottling System as part of our conference package is a big plus for us. It also looks more professional than the plastic bottles previously offered. ViTap is in an open area with a daily footfall of around 3,000. It is always working and accessible.”

The expected increase in enquiries from overseas event planners is great news for UK universities. By promoting their commitment to the environment and offering a premium service, they will be able to compete effectively against the thousands of other venues on offer.

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