Events in a post-pandemic world: is it all bad for the industry?

By 13th August 2021News

After 18 long months of cancellations and uncertainty in the events sector, the return of live meetings, exhibitions and sporting events are gaining momentum. But how have they been impacted by the pandemic, ongoing restrictions, and public anxiety and uncertainty over how they will run? Is it all doom and gloom for the industry?

It would be naïve to think that opening up large-scale events, such as July’s Euros, wouldn’t result in a rise in case numbers. England alone saw a 74% jump in the 7-day average in the week ending 2nd July1. Other high-profile events such as Wimbledon also saw large crowds gather without social distancing restrictions, but they did not necessarily draw the same number of spectators to fan zones or the streets in celebration (and ultimately heartbreak!).

The decision by Tokyo to restrict spectators visiting the rescheduled 2020 Olympic Games and impose restrictions on the athletes in an attempt to limit case numbers rising where possible may be a ‘halfway house’, but it has undeniably been a very different Olympic tournament than those that have gone before it. The empty stadiums on the Lions tour in South Africa somewhat dampened the normal high spirits and community outreach programmes, but were designed to mitigate risks… Is it possible to achieve a ‘best of both worlds’ strategy for your events plan?

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder

Perhaps being apart for so long has had a positive impact on our attitude towards events – no longer just an excuse to get away from your desk for the day, face-to-face events are an important way of feeling connected, feeling inspired, feeling together. They are an opportunity to have creative conversations, sparking ideas and thoughts, as well as being able to see and try products prior to investment. As much as the digital world has a growing space in our lives, sometimes you can’t beat an actual, ‘real-life’ experience.

PredictHQ estimates that although event attendance hasn’t yet reached pre-pandemic levels, it is expected to as the floodgates open. Festivals top the bill, with predicted event attendance for the second half of 2021 at around 87% of 2019 attendance (US), with exhibitions following in 2nd place at 68% of the numbers for 20192, showing that demand is returning for face-to-face events.

Virtual events are leaping forwards

Before March 2020, virtual events were largely the home of online sports and tech conferences – with a niche audience and facing reluctance from the general population. By April, we were left with very little alternative and the exponential rise of the virtual event began. Perhaps they would’ve gained traction over years to come, but the pandemic has certainly accelerated this growth. According to research by Eventbrite, who hosted 1.4 million online experiences last year, 53% of attendees intend to attend both virtual and face-to-face events in the future, even when safe to gather in person3.

The LiveStreaming Music project have reported that 90% of musicians and 92% of fans agreed that live streaming is a good way to reach audiences unable or unwilling to go to venues4. Over two thirds said streaming would remain an ‘important part’ of the music landscape after the pandemic.

We believe that there is a space for a hybrid mix of face-to-face and virtual events in the future of marketing, both can be safe and successful if used in conjunction. If you’d like to speak to us about creating an events strategy that works in a post-pandemic landscape, get in touch with Andy today – andy@owb.uk.com.

 

Sources:

1 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/euros-final-england-italy-covid-cases-b1881156.html

2 https://www.vox.com/recode/22466585/events-concerts-sports-festivals-conferences-expos-pandemic-return

3 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/blog/the-pandemic-has-changed-events-and-its-not-all-bad/

4 https://www.ukri.org/our-work/tackling-the-impact-of-covid-19/recovery-and-rebuilding/whats-the-future-of-live-events-post-pandemic/