London is on sale for convention organizers who typically view the English capital as one of the world’s most expensive cities to host a business event.
The British pound has been in a bit of a free fall since the Brexit vote on June 23, 2016 when it was trading at 1.49 GBP to $1 U.S., before dropping to 1.29 by July 6. As of yesterday, the pound is worth 1.27 U.S. dollars.
This week, The Independent reported that the pound is at a 31-year low against the dollar.
That’s a big shift for U.S.-based conference organizers who are jumping at the chance to lock in lower rates for their large events for years to come. A 15% increase in the value of the dollar translates into big savings when you’re booking large venue spaces, expansive banquets, and hundreds of room nights.
During the two calendar months following Brexit, the London & Partners convention bureau fielded 66 percent more inquiries from U.S. conference organizers than the same time last year.
Overall, among all international source markets, there’s been a 41 percent rise in inquiries from business event planners from June through September.
Most cities generally don’t advertise the fact that their nation’s legal tender is tanking, but London & Partners sees this as an opportune strategy to drive new conference business.
In a statement released this morning, Chris Lynn, VP of business tourism at London & Partners, said, “The drop in the exchange rate has proved a real draw for event planners all over the world, making it the ideal time to host an event in the city.”
The real draw is that organizers can book conference venues and business hotels at today’s rates for the next few years.
“Following Brexit, London hotels have seen a surge of bookings across the city,” said Brona Kelly, director of sales & marketing at Maybourne Hotel Group. “Regarding MICE (meeting, incentive, conference & event) business, we have also seen a demand with clients preferring to pre-pay for their event booking in order to lock in competitive exchange rates.”
James Rees, executive director of the ExCeL London convention center, added, “The weaker pound has been positive for our North American clients, a number of whom have called us to arrange early payments for their events in order to take advantage of the preferential exchange rate.”
Conference organizers probably don’t need to rush their event proposals to London & Partners anytime soon, however. Economists predict that the pound will fall further through the first half of 2017.