Article published 10/02/2020

VisitScotland Business Events are delighted to announce the results of the first ever Scottish Association Survey. As an industry we have long known the incredible benefit and opportunity of hosting association events in Scotland, but as a country we have never truly seen or understood the full picture. Last autumn VisitScotland launched the first ever Scottish Association Survey, a new annual survey that we will conduct in partnership with Scotland's convention bureaus, conference centres, venues, universities and hotels.

To gather the data for this survey VisitScotland has asked you, the business events industry, to share your conference data with us. The event information we received was carefully checked for dates and duplicates, and any events that were not classified as being an association event were removed. Events also had to be international, and not normally take place in Scotland therefore attracting delegates into Scotland. A Scottish association event would not be included.

This big data set has been anonymised, delegate days have been calculated, sectors analysed, and the results are in!

  • In 2018/19 Scotland hosted an incredible 447 association events
  • In total up to 130,000 delegates came to Scotland, with 55,000 originating in the UK and an amazing 75,000 delegates travelling from Europe and beyond. Combined, an incredible 425,000 delegate days were spent in Scotland.
  • The average association event lasts for 2.6 days – 58% of events lasted for either 2 or 3 days.
  • 19% of events last for only one day, and the longest association event lasted for 8 days!
  • 38% of all association events in Scotland are in the Life Sciences, but, those 38% of events account for 56% of all delegate days.
  • ICT and Data events account for 8% of delegate days.
  • The Social Sciences account for 7% of delegate days.
  • Mathematics and Physics, Education, Finance and Professional Studies all account for approximately 4% of delegate days each.

Using industry accepted Delegate Expenditure Benefit (DEB) multipliers, adjusted to 2018 prices in line with Scottish Government inflation indexes, the VisitScotland Insights team has been able to calculate for the first time a potential value for the association sector in Scotland.

  • The total direct expenditure of association conferences in 2018/19 in Scotland was £206m.
  • Primary VisitScotland research has revealed that roughly 4 in every 10 delegates will extend their stay for on average 3 days in Scotland. These extenders contribute an additional £5.6m
  • Further VisitScotland research shows that 9 in 10 delegates would return to Scotland in the future, with the potential value of these repeat visits totalling £5.5m.
  • Combined, the total direct gross impact is £217m to Scotland’s economy.

These figures are a powerful and timely reminder of the enormous, positive impact association conferences can have for a destination. 2018/19 was an excellent year for Scotland and the Scottish Association Survey has provided us all with a new level of understanding and insight into the value and size of association events. In challenging times, now more than ever the ability of associations to cross borders and build bridges is vital to our continued prosperity, peace and growth. Scotland is Open – and we are excited to see the results for 19/20!

Read here the full Scottish Association Survey 2018/19 report.

For any further information on the Scottish Association Survey please contact Patrick Lamont.

VisitScotland would like to extend a huge thanks to all our partners in Scotland who helped make this survey possible. Even with our best intentions data was not collected from every venue in Scotland. If your business hosts association events and was not able to submit data for 18/19, please get in touch so we can ensure you are included for 19/20.