The Future of the Events Industry Post Covid-19
Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Global economies have all taken a huge hit since the pandemic hit us in March 2020, and there are few industries that have been more affected than events. All scales of events - small and large - were forced to cancel worldwide, triggering a domino effect for everyone involved in the sector: venues, vendors, event planners, production teams and many others which rely on events for business growth.
The UK events industry is an important part of the economy and is worth approximately £42.3 billion; it supports 570,000 jobs and over 25,000 businesses including event organisers, venues, exhibition contractors, event production companies, and a whole plethora of suppliers. The initial government decision to enforce a nationwide lockdown put massive pressure on the industry, however since then, the government has introduced a series of schemes to aid in helping freelancers, businesses and employees relieve the strain placed on them by Coronavirus [Covid-19]. A vital measure which offers valuable support is the job retention scheme, and since April one fifth of the workforce has been put on furlough. The scheme has been crucial in preventing redundancies, unemployment and the death of many businesses - but the Chancellor is keen to gradually phase it out as lockdown restrictions are lifted and more organisations are able to actively resume business operations.
Nevertheless, the events industry is likely to not recover as quickly as others so the government will need to identify ways to support this sector.
How adaptable is the events industry?
Throughout the months of lockdown, live video conferencing platforms such as Zoom have grown significantly, proving their worth to the events industry. Zoom pulled in as many as 200 million daily users on their platform worldwide during the quarantine period and replaced our physical interactions, which were limited due to government advice to self-isolate and social distance. From weekly family quizzes, funeral-gatherings or catch-ups with friends, we saw the rise in face-to-face digital communications throughout the lockdown period and the value found in this can be easily transferred to the events sector.
Digital communication platform usage soared across the board, and was seen being used by political parties, corporate companies, education organisations and many more businesses who were confined to working from their homes throughout the pandemic. They offer the ability to connect and communicate immediately and remotely, and the importance of this will continue to grow as technology and society continues to advance.
However, despite the current circumstances it is vital to remember that the events sector holds a crucial role in supporting many other industries. From product launches to networking events and exhibition and trade shows; physical events are an essential part of business and offer huge value to the economy, thus it will inevitably recover. Thanks to technology advancement, there is a lot of room for events to become digitalised and remain as effective and immersive as physical events - but we will come back to this later.
As the threat of a second wave of the virus is a possibility, this would inevitably strike disaster on the events industry. Additionally, even in the case of a capped capacity and the chance to host an event, the real question posed to the sector right now is: if physical events are to take place, will people be willing to attend or will they be scared?
In order to overcome these challenges and any others ahead, the industry will need to become more flexible and adaptable than ever before to fully recover and reduce the negative impact of Covid-19.
For event attendees, prioritising safety - first and foremost - will be crucial in gaining trust that your event is safely and securely sanitised and the event team is working to ensure sanitation stations are in place. Reassuring the public that events have been planned safely with assigned sanitation methods will increase the likelihood of people attending the events. A new government-advised rule which came in the easing of lockdown included a requirement for all passengers on public transport to be wearing a face mask or covering, to decrease the risk of spreading the virus. In the first instance of events returning, it has been suggested this rule could be transferred here and applied, making it a necessity for attendees to comply and take cover.
Ensure you have a plan following the standard guidelines set by WHO and the local government. Building a safe sanitation regime is expected to become the new norm when producing and managing events post Covid-19, as cleanliness and sanitation has been pushed to the forefront of guests’ minds. Undertaking a full review of emergency plans and sanitation requirement to assess the new risks from Covid-19 will become part of general event planning practice.
There is a risk the events sector may not be as profitable as it was prior to Covid-19, with the increased fear of contamination leading to more people avoiding physical activities and gatherings. However, despite the future of events looking bleak right now the industry can and will bounce back and make a full recovery if challenges are approached with care and caution.
Technology-powered events: Virtual and Hybrid
Technology has always been a treasured tool to streamline many processes in events management and production, however since the pandemic it has proven to become invaluable, particularly to the events industry.
As we predicted here, virtual events were forecast to a grow in popularity in 2020, though by force of the coronavirus it saw online events become increasingly used. Due to the quick progress of technology, virtual events will be more immersive as time goes on and the hybrid option will become more widely used as businesses discover the value in delivering online events additionally, or as part of an already-established event.
During this period, it has been clearly noticeable that countless companies have been using live video conference calling tools for internal and external meetings. We have also seen many other companies and industries, particularly music and performing arts, use virtual online events to continue to deliver value in an alternative way. With technology capabilities continuing to advance, this will only help to deliver a better experience and quality of virtual events keeping the events industry going and growing.
It might not be the same as attending an event in person, but there is still value to be seen in this. Events can become more engaging when done online, through live-chat features and interactivity via social media - there are many opportunities found in combining your online and offline event experiences. Virtual/hybrid events may not become the new normal, as the value of real life face to face interaction is unmatched, but they will become part of the event services offering and an important asset to the future of events.
Virtual and hybrid events have many advantages. They allow a more simplified process, a significant increase in attendance, enable participants and guests to attend worldwide, lower costs and much more. As we mentioned in our previous blog post, sustainability has always been a growing issue in the events world, and once the coronavirus crisis is handled, it will become a more prominent issue once again. Especially as virtual and hybrid events positively influence our sustainability impact by decreasing the carbon footprint of events, as event organisers will need less physical space and resources, and transportation emissions will be lower with a reduced capacity in attendance.
As we await further information on the easing of lockdown, the industry can't move forward with any large-scale events until clear guidance is clarified. With the current focus centred on public health, we are confident we will see the return of regular, outdoor events of all descriptions, sizes and styles and physical events will remain an integral part of the sector as well as the growth of other industries and organisations.
Our ultimate goal is to respond to this crisis with a focus on supporting our clients, partners and stakeholders. As we get back into the swim of things here at Associate Events (in accordance to government guidelines) and get quack to our lovely offices, we will continue to operate a ‘business as usual’ approach and provide the services you need as your full-service agency. In a duckshell, we are still here for you! You can contact us using the normal methods, by calling on 0116 464 5995 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We wish all our clients, partners, stakeholders and their families the very best as they adjust to life again in the coming months, and if there’s anything we can do to help support you, please get in touch with us.