Lockdown and social distancing measures have changed the face of the events industry in an unprecedented way.
But that doesn’t mean that the events industry is in trouble. Quite the contrary. The world may have changed, but that simply means that the events industry must change with it and adapt to the new reality. People’s desire to socialise and grow themselves hasn’t gone anywhere and the widespread lockdowns have only increased this demand.
But in order to adapt to the new market, we’re going to have to understand it and that’s why we’re going to explore our own 2020 event industry trends and predictions to get a handle on what is happening in the events industry right now.
As always, all of this information has been sourced from a multitude of government sources, organisations and thought leaders from around the industry and coalated by event organiser and overall event industry expert, Tamsin Goodwin-Connelly. While none of this information is set in stone, it is a useful indicator to see what the big names in the events industry are predicting and how you can work to start following the trends that are going to sweep the industry in the coming months.
In-Person Events Are Going To Be Financially Unsustainable In 2020
The reality is that large scale conferences and events aren’t simply going to restart on day one and be instantly profitable.
There are going to be restrictions of group gatherings for months to come, with those restrictions very likely extending well into 2021. These restrictions are going to cause a huge impact on how companies actually host and organise their events.
Reduced capacity venues are a huge factor
While social distancing has been brought down to 1 metre, it is still extremely likely that most venues are still going to impose a 2 metre rule. Social distancing measures in general are expected to be enforced until as late as March 2021 and it’s expected there will be a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people for the same period also, so the problem isn’t going away soon.
When you take social distancing into account alone, it means that 73% of venues will need to reduce capacity by 40% or more to adhere to social distancing measures. 46% would reduce by more than half.
At those reduced capacities, 59% of venues would not break even with these reduced capacities, so for events to even continue to br profitable in a post COVID world, there’s going to have to be additional sources of income.
This doesn’t even take into account the unknown factor of how many attendees will be comfortable attending larger events after venues are allowed to re-open. The number of people who still want to continue social distancing to a large degree could remain a significant barrier to venues even filling their reduced capacity well into 2021.
There will also be a lack of venues to host events
Based on survey data collected from UK venues, actually getting venues re-open in the first place will be a huge factor by itself. The results suggest that only 12% of venues would be able to reopen immediately after restrictions lifted.
47% of venues would need 2 weeks lead time.
29% of venues would require up to a month.
12% of venues would require over a month.
There is going to be a huge lack of space for event companies to even host events in general, let alone large scale events that are capable of turning a profit.
The calendar is already booked well in advance for new events
The situation looks even worse when viewed from the perspective of an event that is in the process of searching for a venue to host their event later in the year.
This is because a majority of events from early 2020 have now been pushed back into the year and beyond, filling up the calendar well into 2021.
87% of venues already have events scheduled for Oct-Dec 2020 and a general prediction is that many events will move to 2021 unless there is a commercial need to hold the event in 2020.
Why The Hybrid Event Is A Requirement For The Industry
While you most likely are aware of what a hybrid event is, it’s good to quickly define the concept as we predict this is where the industry is going to find its refuge for the following months.
A hybrid event is an in-person event, which is also livestreamed to an “interactive” online audience.
When it comes to selling more tickets to events and increasing revenue, all while enforcing social distancing measures and keeping your physical venue’s capacity low; it all makes hybrid events a completely logical solution to these barriers.
This is not to say that all events will work like this. A small number of events may go completely virtual altogether and smaller local events will not be affected by capacity restrictions as they would only need to take into account smaller crowd numbers and also could be held outside.
But large national events which have already booked bigger venues are certainly going to have to take on this approach in order to host their event and turn a profit.
It will be vital for event companies to invest in virtual platforms that offer multi-functional event formats, or else they will be completely left behind and lay dormant for another year, while their competitors who do invest in a virtual option will be able to hit the ground running once venues re-open.
How Hybrid Events Will Affect In-Person Events
COVID by itself has already drastically changed the face of the event’s industry, there is no arguing that.
Outside of the huge reductions in crowd sizes, any attendees are going to see the prescence of controlled movement within the venue itself, sanitiser stations wherever possible, limited toilet use, no self serve stations or publicly available refreshments, and even potentially the arrival of on-site health checks to keep tabs on any outbreaks.
When it comes to the introduction of a virtual element to in-person events, we’re going to see several changes that could go on to have an interesting impact on the way in-person events function.
- More cameras and filming equipment throughout events
- A focus on the online audience engagement
- Social events with an additional online element
- More ticket variants for in-person and online attendees
- More options to replay and rewatch talks since all aspects of the event will now be filmed
The majority of additions will be beneficial to attendees. There will be more ways to enjoy your events and with live streaming element, there will be more options to rewatch any content you might have missed. Overall, there is very little reason for attendees to be concerned about any changes, as most of the changes will be felt by the organisers.
The Big 2020 Prediction: Hybrid Events Are Here To Stay
The culminating circumstances that COVID has caused for the events industry has finally created the environment where event holders are going to need to use a hybrid model in order to be profitable until 2021.
The next few months will be used as a test case for the hybrid model and event hosts are going to be pleasantly surprised.
Hybrid events are shown to drastically increase revenue with very little investment or work on the part of the event organiser. Virtual platforms like ReAttendance are already built to support a variety of event types and the infrastructure is already in place to handle everything from selling tickets online, all the way to the final production, recording, hosting and live streaming an event online.
Event organisers will quickly see the benefits that hybrid events have, most notably when it comes to the increase in revenue.
However, this won’t be an instant uptake for all. People have been stuck inside for a long time now and we’re very comfortable in predicting that many events are going to ease the social distancing issues by hosting their events in outdoor venues while the weather remains good towards the tail end of the year.
While people will remain cautious, there will be a significant demand for social events as people are going to highly value some much needed social interaction.
However, even with these factors, it will be during this trial period that hybrid events will make their case when it comes to the numbers and their audience reach.
The hybrid aspect to any event will continue to be a necessity for the near future and well beyond COVID.