Conference delegates should reap the benefits of networking, according to Conference Leeds survey

The UK has hosted 1.02million conferences in the last year alone, generating an outstanding £16.3 billion for the economies of popular conference destinations.
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As one of the leading conference destinations in the UK, Leeds has seen huge success in the last 12 months, welcoming 2.5 million delegates to 32,600 business events, which has brought £413 million direct expenditure to the city.

Leeds consistently provides conference organisers and their delegates an exceptional conference experience. In a new survey, the city’s conferencing bureau, Conference Leeds has revealed exactly what today’s delegates are looking for from their conference experience, and what organisers should consider when planning their programmes.

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The new data demonstrated what aspects of a conference will encourage delegates to be a more active attendee. The top five responses are:

Research by Conference Leeds reveals the top six considerations for conference organisersResearch by Conference Leeds reveals the top six considerations for conference organisers
Research by Conference Leeds reveals the top six considerations for conference organisers
  1. An engaging conference environment (37 per cent)

  2. Entertainment (25 per cent)

  3. Networking sessions (21 per cent)

  4. Socialising (21 per cent)

  5. Group exercise classes (20 per cent)

The survey has highlighted the important role that an engaging conference environment has in encouraging delegates to become a more active attendee and this was the top consideration delegates search for when attending a conference (37 per cent). While, almost half of those surveyed said activities involving networking and socialising would make them a more active participant when attending a conference.

However, even though socialising and networking activities are making delegates a more active participant at business events, delegates aren’t seeing the potential professional benefits to these parts of conferencing itineraries.

The research found the top three least professionally beneficial parts of a business event, are:

  1. Breakout sessions (26 per cent)

  2. Networking sessions (22 per cent)

  3. Socialising lunches (21 per cent)

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With networking sessions and socialising lunches coming out in the top three, the data shows that event organisers should carefully consider the balance of their upcoming itineraries to ensure delegates realise the full potential of these types of sessions.

The survey data also suggested that, in a world where life is fast-paced, delegates would prefer the latest insights from experts in a short and concise presentation. Seeing a well-known industry expert (39 per cent), short, time-focused presentations (33 per cent) and an ‘ask the expert’ session (31 per cent) would keep delegates the most engaged at a conference.

Event organisers can also keep delegates engaged by avoiding these session types.

  1. CSR activities (95 per cent) including charity fundraising, team building activities and pledging

  2. Live polling (94 per cent) as part of an interactive conference presentations

  3. Speed networking (92 per cent) with short, allocated time to spend time with other conference delegates

  4. Debates (90 per cent) where speakers pose an argument for an open delegate and panel discussion

  5. Live event illustration (89 per cent) to visually represent the outcomes of the key discussion of the conference

Commenting on its research, Claire Heap, head of Conference Leeds, said: “As one of the leading conferencing and business event destinations in the UK, Leeds hosts a multitude of successful events from a wide variety of sectors on an annual basis.

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“Many business event organisers will understand the importance of finding the right balance of expert insights, ideas sessions, exhibition browsing and networking. Our recent research has suggested that even though delegates may not realise the professional benefit from networking or socialising, such as new contacts, client leads or product information, it’s still an integral part of the delegate experience.”

Conference Leeds, the conferencing bureau for the city of Leeds, offers a free and impartial service to assist delegates in experiencing the exceptional. To explore your options ahead of your next conference, visit:

To find out more about Conference Leeds’ recent research, visit:

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