Annual operating profits rose to a new high of £1.4 million, up £200,000 year-on-year and marking a significant turnaround from 2014 when the conference venue racked up a £1.5m loss.
Revenue also increased, to £11.8m and up from £11.2m in the previous year.
More than 300,000 visitors visited the EICC over the 12-month period, resulting in an estimated £58.1m boost for Edinburgh and the regional economy (up from £55m in 2017). This metric combines sales at the venue with tourists’ associated spending elsewhere in the area, such as in hotels and restaurants.
The conference venue, which is gearing up to host the 2019 TEDSummit in July, pointed to an increase in business from professional industry associations, which now account for 60 per cent of total turnover. It also cited a surge in bookings from the international corporate market, where revenues jumped 161 per cent in the year with “key successes” in the financial and tech sectors.
Chief executive Marshall Dallas credited this growth to the expansion of its sales arm in recent years.
He said: “It’s encouraging to have built profitability over the last three years, particularly when you consider we achieved this from a negative base back in 2014… We have invested heavily in the sales team over the last couple of years and this is now paying dividends.”
Throughout 2018, in an effort to counter the potential affects of Brexit, the venue focused on building revenue streams outside Europe, such as in North America and China.
It has underpinned this strategy by attending key international trade shows, including meetings industry event IBTM World in November.
Dallas said: “While UK and European association conferences remain integral for EICC, we’ve increased our activities outside Europe, which we believe to be a prudent measure in the face of the uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
“We have also worked hard to gain an even better understanding of our customer’s expectations, and this has resulted in the introduction of more flexible conference packages, as well as investments in our technology and our environment practices.”
Highlights of 2018 included Michelle Obama speaking at an EICC event in July; the World Youth and Student Travel Conference in September; and the Linux Foundation’s EU Open Source Summit in October.
This year’s TEDSummit is set to attract more than 1,000 guests and is expected to contribute around £5m to the local economy.
Dallas added: “Winning the 2019 TEDSummit was a big coup for the EICC and the city.
“It demonstrated that collaboration between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland and various city partners can achieve really successful outcomes, which was particularly evident having secured the event against strong competition from across the globe.”
The EICC is owned by Edinburgh City Council but operates as an independent commercial venture.