The UK events industry is off to a flying start in 2018, with average event budgets up by 11.5% on 2017, according to new data released by venue-booking platform Hire Space.

The new data compares the first six weeks of 2018 with the corresponding period in 2017.

Average budgets are driven particularly by award ceremonies, which show a 20.1% increase on last year, and by meetings, which show a 13.9% increase on the same period.

Lilla Madacsi, head of account management at Hire Space, commented: “Signs are positive at this early stage of 2018, with strong results across most event types. We’re especially interested to see an increase in the budget per head for company away days from our Hire Space Professional clients. This shows that businesses are re-investing in their staff through events and is an encouraging sign for the industry.”

In another strong signal for the events industry, the average number of attendees at networking events rose by 12.3%, suggesting that companies were increasingly using live events to engage their audiences.

Event types to have bucked the trend include conferences, which showed a 3.7% decrease in average event spend.

Industry sectors to have driven the growth include professional services, which registered a 26% increase in enquiry budgets, and associations, which registered a 21% increase.

Hire Space’s first quarterly Industry Trends Report for 2018 will be released in early April.