Robust performance at convention centre despite tough economic climate

Harrogate Convention Centre has reported significant growth in the 2023/24 financial year, with a strong forecast for next year.

The conference and exhibition venue has recorded a “very strong” lettings performance and an even better performance forecast for next year, which it says indicates continued recovery in the event industry post-Covid.

Lettings income for the centre in the year ending March 2024 is the highest since 2014, which is a 19% increase on 2022/23 and a 14% increase on pre-Covid levels in 2019/20. This is the second year of significant growth in a row.

Lettings from conferences in 2023/24, which include national and international associations, professional and corporate conferences, have increased 27% on the previous year and surpassed pre-Covid levels (2019/20) by 17%.

Trade exhibitions, such as Harrogate Christmas & Gift Fair, Bridal Week Harrogate and the upcoming Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival which attracts thousands of visitors and exhibitors to Harrogate in July each year, have seen lettings increase 24% on 2022/23 and surpass pre-Covid levels (2019/20) by 22%.

The centre attributes its continued growth to a new sales strategy that supports full use of conference and exhibitions spaces by enabling the venue to accommodate multiple events in different parts of the complex.

Other initiatives which have helped attract new events include cosmetic improvements to the venue, sustainability and accessibility initiatives, a more targeted sales approach and incorporation of the catering team under the in-house brand Matcham’s.

Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “The exceptional business performance we achieved last year provides a welcome signal of robust and continuous growth surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

“Despite the current economic environment, the resilience and hard work of our wonderful team have continued to deliver a superb event experience for organisers and delegates.

“Forward-looking bookings for the years ahead are promising. These results demonstrate the strong demand we are seeing within the event industry and reaffirm that Harrogate remains highly attractive for event organisers.”

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