The events industry is worth over £42 billion to the UK economy. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, around 60% of businesses within the sector are facing collapse within three months. We’re sure you’ll agree, these aren’t great stats.
Just 1% of businesses in the event industry have been successful in obtaining a hospitality and leisure grant. Yet the event industry relies heavily on working alongside businesses in hospitality and leisure. The two really do go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately it seems the event industry has somewhat been forgotten, something industry bodies and associations are working hard to fight.
One thing we can’t do is turn back time, or indeed press fast forward and skip the rest of the lockdown period. Many events have been postponed until later in the year or even totally cancelled. It simply isn’t safe to predict when the industry will be able to get back to full swing.
So how can the events industry bounce back and futureproof itself following the coronavirus pandemic?
Diversify its offering
Virtual events have been all the rage since the pandemic took over normal life. From virtual quizzes through to bingo, murder mysteries and even escape rooms, there really is something for everyone. People have enjoyed connecting with their loved ones from the comfort of their own sofa, paying significantly less for a virtual event yet still experiencing great entertainment.
While there is likely to be a surge in popularity for physical events once the UK fully emerges from lockdown, this may be a short-lived phenomenon. Event planners and organisers may see a rise in customers looking for online events. In a similar way employees may request working from home flexibility following lockdown, event attendees may wish to attend all or part of an event virtually to ensure they aren’t missing out.
This is great from a numbers viewpoint. Events will be able to reach a much wider audience if attendees don’t have to travel. However, there are always logistical considerations. Should event planners charge significantly less for virtual sessions, and is this fair? Should all elements of events have a virtual counterpart or just some sessions… and would that lead to some attendees missing out? Event organisers should incorporate virtual elements in their overall planning, to ensure digital offerings aren’t just an afterthought.
Of course, incorporating digital elements adds an extra layer of complexity for event planners. Industry leaders predict corporate clients will work more closely with agencies and specialists to provide this technical expertise.
Meet customer expectations
Sustainability, accessibility and wellbeing have long been customer priorities. Customers want to make sure they’re attending ethical events that prioritise sustainability. Of course, offering a virtual event to minimise attendee travel is a great way to improve an event’s sustainability. But planners should also consider incorporating sustainability throughout every aspect of the physical event, from ethical cutlery through to better waste management and ensuring you’re using a green energy supplier.
Accessibility is also a key factor. Events should be available to everyone. Whilst the industry has improved significantly, ensuring disabled access and additional facilities at most events, there is still a long way to go. Those with mental disabilities or high anxiety levels may find crowded areas difficult to circumnavigate and may need further assistance. Planners are starting to implement buddy systems, additional meeting points and on-site counselling to ensure everyone can gain full enjoyment from an event. Again, the option of virtual attendance instantly improves accessibility for those who aren’t able to physically attend an event.
Wellbeing is also a hot topic within the events industry. The coronavirus pandemic has led to mental health being far more widely talked about. Therefore events planners really need to think about how to embed wellbeing within their events. This includes physical wellbeing sessions like yoga or running clubs, mental health assistance (on-site professionals, for example), quiet zones and lower attendee limits. Event planners must be mindful that attendees don’t just represent pound signs – they’re potentially long-term returning customers, and will provide recommendations that could influence many other potential attendees.
Quality at a low cost
People staying in isolation have spent virtually nothing. Therefore, our perspective on money is changing. What may have seemed reasonable in the past may now seem a much more unreasonable price (particularly when so many people have been taking part in free or low-cost online events). 90% of people in the UK have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic, so disposable income will be impacted. There’ll be a decrease in individuals willing to splash out on non-essential events and entertainment.
Event organisers must make sure the price is right in order to attract the maximum number of attendees to future events. But that doesn’t mean compromising on quality. In fact, attendees are likely to expect even more from the events they attend. They’ll want an experience they can’t replicate themselves or find elsewhere, something that gives them added-value and excitement. Really taking a step back to think about what your event offers and how to provide a good experience for attendees. Do you have a range of catering options available, informational stands, a mix of headline music and local performers to discover? Find a balance between discovery and experience. You must meet the standards your attendees expect and demand, but you should also give them something extra – find exciting and unusual ways to educate, entertain and inform your attendees. Whether that’s discovering a new artist or trying a new cuisine.
Stay positive for the future of the events industry
85% of UK event businesses state that new bookings have been affected a lot by the pandemic. Industries have been left in turmoil by the enforced lockdown. It’s no wonder people are hesitant in booking future events. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the next stages of economic recovery. Noone really knows when we will return to “the new normal”. However, the events industry must rally and be prepared to hit the ground running when things do pick back up again. We may be in a temporary downward spiral. But there will always be a need for fantastic events. Planners just have to be ready and waiting to pick things back up again.
Of course, events will need to start thinking about how to open up again whilst taking social distancing into consideration. One-way systems, hygiene etiquette displays, hand sanitiser throughout the site, floor markings and distanced seating are just some of the ways event organisers will help to keep attendees safe. Though, realistically, the entire event layout and design must be reconsidered with social distancing measures in mind.
Insuring your event
The coronavirus disruption has shown the real, tangible value of having adequate insurance.
69% of events cancelled due to COVID-19 were not covered by insurance, with just 6% insured against the disease. This has put into sharp perspective the real need to prioritise insurance. Venues, suppliers, contractors and event organisers are hurriedly reviewing the terms and conditions of their contracts to include cancellation and postponement clauses to avoid such substantial financial loss.
Whilst purchasing pandemic insurance following this chaos is unlikely now, there are a multitude of other unexpected incidents that could interrupt your event. Event planners will need to insure against these.
For example, bad weather or a headline act suddenly falling in or being unable to attend could spell cancellation for your event. Without insurance, event planners may be left liable for these recoverable costs. Don’t let that happen. Event professionals must put adequate insurance in place way in advance of the event date (so you’re insured for set-up, too).
With Insure Our Event, you can quite literally insure your event in minutes. Plus, when you work with us, you have peace of mind that you will always have a team of insurance experts ready to help you. We’re just one phone call away.
For more information, fill out a quick quote form.