Insight: Issue 32 (17th February)
We hope you all had a nice virtual Valentine’s Day. . .
Because apparently that’s a thing now. God help us all.
Today we’ve got: *more* research showing how the events industry is on the brink of collapse (don’t shoot the messenger); news of £1.4bn in vital event support being withheld by local government (as if things weren’t bad enough); a panel of experts discussing ‘the great restart’ of events; how hybrid events will affect 2021 budgets; the pros and cons of remote event planning; and a hopeful discussion around the future of events—AKA, something to look forward to…
Events industry on brink of collapse
Well, this is a déjà vu from last week’s insight…*more* research shows the events industry is on the brink of collapse. With no roadmap to reopening, a shameful lack of government support, and almost a year with little or no trading—event profs are, unsurprisingly, struggling.
A major industry-wide survey—carried out by the Business Visit and Events Partnership at the end of last year—found that 72% of the 1,700 companies and freelancers surveyed said they have only 3-4 months of liquidity left. On top of that, the vast majority of respondents don’t predict being able to run any events for at least 3 months after the lifting of restrictions; and less than 6% are able to operate profitably under existing COVID guidelines and social distancing regulations.
Check out the findings here. Or TL;DR: the events industry needs more government support, and we need it yesterday.
£1.4bn vital event support withheld by local gov
To make matters worse, the Event Industry Alliance has revealed thousands of businesses across England are facing further job losses or bankruptcy due to the failure of local authorities to award £1.4 billion of emergency COVID grants.
Responses to 400 freedom of information requests—issued by the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) to local authorities across England—have indicated that 87% (87%!) of the government’s Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funds have yet to be paid out. The ARG scheme could offer a game-changing £3,000 per month per company—but instead, it’s going nowhere. Andrew Harrison, Director of ESSA, commented:
“We are making an urgent call on the UK Government and local MPs across England to provide clear guidance to local authorities on issuing the Additional Restrictions Grant, in order that payments are made to eligible companies as soon as possible.”
‘The Great Restart’ of events: when, who, how much?
News stories like those really pull the plug on hope, don’t they? *BUT* we have to remember that vaccines are being rolled out, event profs are absolutely crushing it with cutting-edge virtual events, and live events *will return*.
To keep us moving forward, Smart Meetings convened a panel of experts from all corners of the events industry to chat about how to get us back into the meeting room—asking when, how much, and who is up to the task?
How will hybrid events hit 2021 budgets?
Speaking of how much…it’s all well and good waxing lyrical about the benefits of hybrid events, but what about the bottom line? In other words, how will hybrid events affect 2021 budgets?
It’s possible that hybrid events will become a straightforward transitional solution and will not have a long-term negative impact on finances. In the short term, however, event profs will have to find ways to make revenue from fewer attendees, with more expenses pencilled out. Some things to think about:
- The tech has to fit the bill—regardless of the size of the event, the technology must be reliable, simple to use, and well-designed; and this should be reflected in the price. Trust us: if an online experience is complex or buggy, attendees will bail.
- Consider cost-based pricing—remember, price ranges will fluctuate depending on technical complexity, labour and equipment needed, the length of the event, the depth of the event integration and, of course, audience size and location.
- And don’t forget about value-based pricing, either—tapping into the creative and innovative potential of virtual events will let you charge more for attendance; start by taking a look at analytics, online polls, and sophisticated chat functionality.
The pros and cons of remote event planning
Event planning is a hands-on, people-centred job—one that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a remote working arrangement. But here we are, whether we like it or not! Event Manager Blog shared a very relatable article on the pros and cons of work-from-home event planning that might make you feel a bit better—or, at least, a bit less alone:
- The communication challenge—outside of the office, we lack the physical cues that let us gauge the best time for a chat (like, say, your coworker being in the middle of a very important phone call). But beware of delaying small issues for a scheduled meeting time, as this can lead to a bottleneck…and that’s when small issues become big ones!
- The double-edged sword of flexibility—a work-from-home system is ideal for managing your own schedule (and those of your now homeschooled kids!) but the downside is, it makes it mighty hard to set boundaries between work and home life…because, well, there isn’t one.
- An increased reliance on tech—project management software and instant messaging systems have been life-savers; helping to open up lines of communication and improve transparency across teams. But these new ways of working have also required an adjustment period, and some of us are still figuring it out…
But hey, we’re all in this together, right guys?
The future of experiences & events
Okay, last up for today—if you’re looking for a longer read, we highly recommend the grandly titled Future of Experiences and Events Summit, which you can find over on the Event Design Collective. No spoilers, but here’s the premise:
If that doesn’t hook you, nothing will!