Mark Cornish, Senior Consultant – Brands

In the UK, more than 700 companies employ 2.9 million people in the hospitality industry, and according to UKHospitality, the sector is growing at 5% YTD and three times faster than the economy overall. Hospitality executed correctly is certainly felt by many to provide an enjoyable experience to attendees and to have a positive impact on businesses.

Companies of all sizes use hospitality as a mechanism to build and develop relationships with specific clients, network and generate new business where possible. Some would say it is a highly effective practice and its impact is often tracked internally. Yet, very little benchmarking or independently recognised statistics exist within the landscape – that is until now.

Therefore, in response to the considered lack of industry data and based on demand by clients to better understand the popularity and impact of hospitality, Nielsen Sports & Entertainment undertook a survey of 2,000 people who had recently attended a hospitality event. A broad view of hospitality was deliberately taken to provide a reflective view of the market and allow comparison across a range of common hospitality events, namely; Professional Sports Event, Activity Days (e.g. driving experience), Arts & Culture, Golf Day, Lunch/Dinner Event, Musical Concert, Music Festival, Theatre/Stage Production, Trade Show/Exhibition.

If asked about hospitality you may find yourself defaulting to an image of corporate entertaining at a major event. Well this type of hospitality is very much alive as the fast-approaching summer season will soon remind us, however the survey reveals that a much broader cross-section of business people are engaged through hospitality throughout the year.  In today’s business world, there is an even split of gender across attendees, with an average age under 40.

The Nielsen survey not only profiles attendees and why they attended, but it also asks respondents who the hosts were and from whom the invitation was sent.

CEO’s and business owners make up a relatively small share of hospitality attendee’s, with the bulk holding middle or junior management positions.

The survey goes onto benchmark and compare what types of experiences people prefer and what drives them to accept the invitation. For some, variety is key, whilst for others (such as golf days), it is often about being invited back to the same event each year. Then there is the practical consideration such as the amount of time/distance travelled and the expense. We also examine awareness and understanding of the Bribery Act and the extent to which it plays a role in the acceptance of hospitality.

Other areas explored within the survey include,

Does being an official sponsor contribute to the experience and is it worth it? This subject is debated across many boardrooms and in marketing meetings every day. The survey results help to understand and compare the contribution of money can’t buy experiences, compared to tickets and tables or simply a lunch/dinner.

How favourable do you feel towards the event your experience, towards your host and business? The results recognise why hospitality plays a role in most companies sales and marketing plans and provides comparable, benchmarks and insights across different UK profiles and events.


Mark Cornish
Senior Consultant – Brands
Nielsen Sports & Entertainment