Insight: Issue 75 (15th December)
Brace yourselves for today’s insight, event profs! It’s going to be a bumpy ride. . .
In today’s news: Nicola Sturgeon has announced renewed limits on social mixing over the festive period (but Christmas *isn’t* cancelled!); meanwhile in England, event profs react to new Plan B measures; the Scottish hospitality industry experiences ‘non-stop cancellations’ after Christmas party plea from Public Health Scotland; 40% of music fans aren’t showing up to UK gigs due to the recent rise in COVID cases; staff shortages for events are still widespread, according to a new survey; and the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme has an important deadline TODAY.
Phew! Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Nicola announces new COVID advice for Scotland
Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon announced renewed limits on social mixing over the festive period, in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant while the vaccine booster programme accelerates across the country. Though she stressed that nobody should cancel their Christmas Day plans, the First Minister is urging people to limit their indoor socialising to no more than three households *before* and *immediately after* 25 December. This advice will not be a legal requirement, but it is strongly recommended.
The public are also being asked to keep festive celebrations ‘as small as your family circumstances allow’; to make sure all those gathering have been vaccinated and have done a lateral flow test in advance; and to keep rooms ventilated and follow strict hygiene rules throughout. In case you missed it – anyone aged 30 or over in Scotland can now book a booster appointment via NHS inform. So go get jagged, and let’s save Christmas!
Events industry reacts to Plan B COVID measures
Meanwhile, event profs down south are calling for targeted government support in the wake of PM Boris Johnson’s announcement that Plan B measures will be implemented in England from today, 15 December. These measures include:
- renewed advice to work from home where possible;
- the reintroduction of mandates around the wearing of face masks in all indoor public places;
- and the implementation of ‘COVID passports’.
Much like the rules that are already in place in Scotland and Wales, this means anyone trying to gain entry to venues will need to prove they are either: (a) fully vaccinated, (b) have had a negative PCR or lateral flow test result in the past 48 hours, or (c) have tested positive for COVID in the past six months and have completed a period of self-isolation. Juliet Price, Consultant Executive Director for the HBAA, aptly summed up the situation:
“Business events and hospitality now need this support immediately to prevent newly created jobs from being lost again. There are already clear signs of another knock back to event planner confidence in booking and running live events. Now that the instruction to work from home again and compulsory mask wearing are being reintroduced widely, we know from bitter experience in early 2020 that the sector will immediately suffer more substantial financial issues and jobs will come under threat. Live events will quickly become commercially less viable and more likely to return to virtual or are cancelled.”
‘Non-stop cancellations’ after Xmas party plea
And the merriment continues! Hospitality venues in Scotland are reporting ‘non-stop cancellations’ since people were urged to cancel Christmas parties by Public Health Scotland. Stephen Montgomery, from the Scottish Hospitality Group, described it as a ‘heavy blow’ to the industry – and at the worst possible time, when hospitality venues usually bank 30% of their yearly turnover.
In one case, a hotel in Aberdeen had 900 cancellations in just 48 hours – with one event dropping from 263 guests to 18 overnight. The venue has had 3,000 portions of turkey on order for months, plus a fully stocked bar, and now the team are worried much of that could go to waste. We’d volunteer to drink the Champers, but we’re not sure that would help…
40% not showing up to UK gigs due to COVID
Following a rise in COVID cases, a number of industry experts are also lamenting the huge numbers of event ticket-holders who are choosing not to attend – and that includes gigs that have been sold out for months.
Artist Manager Graeme Stewart said that while around 5% of ticket-holders wouldn’t show up for events under normal circumstances, this has now risen to about 40%. Many organisations across the live music industry are blaming the new restrictions for the rising number of no-shows. CEO of LIVE, Greg Parmley, commented:
“The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard that allows people to go on all-day pub crawls in crowded bars without having to prove their COVID-19 status, whilst live music venues get hit with certification.”
And that’s hard to argue with, if you ask us!
96% of event organisers hit by staff shortages
And it’s not just the ticket-holders who aren’t showing up on the day – it’s the staff, too. According to a survey by the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA), almost all (96%) outdoor event organisers are experiencing problems with staff shortages, and 83% predict the problem will continue throughout 2022.
The survey – carried out on behalf of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) – also found that, unsurprisingly, the shortages will have a fundamental impact on the productivity of the industry, with 72% of respondents reporting that they had had to turn away business. NOEA President Tom Clements said that he hoped the findings of the survey would provide the UK government with the evidence it needs to *finally* support the events industry:
“Talent has been a massive part of our association’s focus from the outset of this pandemic and the report underlines just why we have been so concerned. 2022 is going to be tough, and the pressure is on event organisers to be at their very best with some major, international events taking place across the UK. We need our talent back, we need them correctly rewarded and we need support for businesses to who are going to make these events the magnificent spectacle they need to be.”
Live Events Reinsurance Scheme update
Given the nature of today’s insight (non-stop doom and gloom…sorry about that) we figured it would be a good idea to alert you all to an important change to the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme.
Originally, cover could be purchased as late as one day before the event is scheduled to take place. But from today – 15 December 2021 – cover must be purchased no less than 8 weeks before the event date. That means for events between 16 December 2021 and 10 February 2022, the cut-off date to purchase cover is today.
Better get on it, folks. And if you’ve got any queries, you can contact the scheme administrator directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So. . .who’s feeling festive after that?