In this new series, Spice brings you the latest news from an international destination on the current state of business event activity in that part of the world. In this first article, we head to France, home to the Rugby World Cup 2023, and hear from TerraEVENTS France country director, Heidi Feveyer.
- Meetings activity is growing in France
- Groups are smaller and budgets are tighter than pre-COVID
- Bookings are extremely short lead-time
- UK, Germany and Switzerland are strong source markets
- COVID protocols are negligible
- Rugby World Cup 2023 is garnering growing interest
January was very quiet but in February business literally took off with very last minute enquiries, short lead times and confirmations, as well as a huge increase in the number of requests right through until the end of June 2022.
Since the beginning of May, we have been receiving leads for the second part of the year which are also very last minute. There is very little business beyond October and requests have been slow to come in for 2023 and 2024.
From February to June, we would have run 13 events and had leads in that period of over 170.
We are looking at events confirming now for September and October but beyond that, there is very little in the way of confirmations.
Availability is becoming a major issue for September and October, with many hotels fully booked out over these periods which makes last minute leads for that period tricky to find solutions for.
We are starting to receive an increase in interest for the Rugby World Cup 2023 and Paris Olympics 2024, but leads are slow to confirm.
At present, business is coming from mainly European countries – the UK, Germany and Switzerland – some business from the U.S. and Singapore, and we are just recently seeing a significant increase in enquiries from Australia and New Zealand. We have also had some enquiries from South Africa.
At the beginning of the year, we had a significant number of requests for meetings, which are continuing. This is, of course, due to the lack of meetings over the past two years.
We are finding that groups in general are smaller than they were in the past.
As I said, we are now seeing requests for hospitality programmes during the Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics, with a range of types of group sizes and styles of programs coming through.
Incentives are a small part of our business at the present time but they are picking up later in the year.
What we are seeing post-COVID is that groups in general are smaller and clients are keeping a strict eye on budgets. COVID concerns are relatively low with very little contingency planning, in my opinion. The COVID concerns are mainly linked to the travel factor as to whether they need to have guests do tests before they leave the destination or not and how to manage these. This may change in the autumn when cases could flare up again.
Rugby World Cup 2023
The Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2023 runs in France from September 8 to October 28, 2023. There are 10 hosting cities, nine stadiums and 20 nations participating, with a total of 48 games played in front of an expected live audience of 2.6 million people.
Interest in the Rugby World Cup is on the increase daily, with requests being very varied and enquiries across multiple cities in France.
We have put together some great itineraries for groups who are considering RWC and are already taking bookings which we anticipate is only going to increase.
Interest for RWC is from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which were all the markets we expected to show interest.
To ensure you secure the venues, hotels and other services you would like, we suggest the earlier you book the better. We don’t handle ticketing, as this is undertaken by official agencies. We are working on hospitality packages and again, the earlier the booking the better to ensure the best VIP possibilities. We have noted that some venues and hotels are already fully booked for large French sponsors.
Rugby is a federating and noble sport which generally brings people together in a friendly fair-play atmosphere. To hold an event with this background is very uniting; something which in a post-COVID world is very appealing. France has some fantastic stadiums to host this event with the backdrop of some very different French cities from east to west and north to south. Rugby World Cup makes for an excellent incentive.
TerraEVENTS is represented in Australia by Tourism Portfolio.