With a brand-new year comes a brand-new slate. Will 2021 deliver the events industry fresh opportunities, or will we continue to experience the devastating impact of 2020 in live events?

Although hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19, the events industry did adapt and persevere to get through 2020.

Adaptation is the name of the game still in 2021, although hopefully more in favour of live event adaptations and less on online alternatives.

Consumer Behaviour

Tell-tale signs in consumer behaviour

In a study carried out by REED Exhibitions, they found that the acceptance of digital tools has increased drastically. On average, their visitors had tried 3.3 new digital services in June, while exhibitors had tried 3.2 services. By September, these numbers had increased to 3.5 and 3.6. Driven by what REED Exhibitions says “is a willingness to try new online banking services, medical consultations, shopping and streaming services.”

Despite being willing to adapt when necessary to online alternatives, consumers and exhibitors and hungry to go back to a face to face world and all the unique opportunists events provide.

F2 F Interactions

A continued value of face-to-face interactions

Possibly the most encouraging finding from REED Exhibitions white paper (which you can download here) is how both exhibitors and visitors still see the value in face-to-face events.

“2 out of 3 exhibitors expect to spend the same or more on exhibitions once a vaccine is deployed.”
REED Exhibitions

REED found “increases in the percentage of both visitors and exhibitors who state they will be comfortable attending events after safety and travel restrictions have eased. Currently, three-quarters of visitors feel either positive or neutral about returning to events, compared to 56% of exhibitors.”

Although events continue to be dominated by digital through February and March, by the end of May I have already been receiving invites to live events (like the Event Production Show), with plenty more planned for June and throughout summer.

With the events industry divided and large consumer events like Glastonbury postponed by a year, where others are forging ahead, its safe to say that any return to normality with events this year will be done cautiously.

Hybrid Future

Creating a COVID safe event

For those who are looking to get live events underway this summer, creating a COVID safe environment is a priority.

1. Assess your risks

Events can encompass a wide variety of experiences that need to be assessed on an individual basis. Risk assessments are proving to be the key factor in deciding what events are going ahead this year and which are being postponed. For example, it’s unlikely that the majority of young crowds at Glastonbury would have received vaccinations in time and would observe any kind of social distancing.

2. Implement safety measures

Seeking advice from knowledgeable parties must be done to ensure risks are mitigated as much as possible. Any measures you undertake need to be clearly communicated to your attendees and exhibitors before during and after your event as applicable. Making sure everyone knows what measures they are supposed to follow will define how successfully safety measures are implemented.

3. Check and check again

This is a new way of being in events and having a checklist to refer back to will ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

There are some great resources online for how to prepare for a COVID safe event, like this one provided by the CDC.

If you’re running or attending events this year, get in touch with us about the best technology to use to maximise success.

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