Events and Exhibitions post Covid-19

The Covid-19 global pandemic has permanently changed the events and exhibitions industry. How will the event and exhibitions industry adapt to changes when the lockdown has been lifted?

How will the events and exhibitions industry change post-Coronavirus?

The global pandemic of Covid-19 virus has permanently changed the healthcare events and exhibitions industry. Indeed it can be argued that the exhibitions and events industry was the first be affected by the effects of the COVID-19 virus.Virtually all pharmaceutical industry conferences, tradeshows and exhibitions were cancelled or postponed with no real confidence that any future date in 2020 will be viable. One of the many upcoming problems is that it's difficult to re-organise an event when we don't have a timescale to work to.

Some newspaper reports have suggested that the Coronavirus could re-surface next winter, making event organisers nervous about committing time and money to re-scheduled events. Will we adapt to a new way of marketing and communications, with the old ways of working seeming outdated, or will it simply snap back to business as usual? Will virtual events be the new normal? Undoubtedly the events and exhibitions industry is incredibly resilient, and our human need to interact and exchange information face-to-face will result in a recovery in time. However, the impact of Covid-19 will have changed how we work forever.

1. Contingency planning

While contingency plans are on most organisers top five list of must-dos, the speed and depth of the effects of the pandemic have surprised many people, and the financial implications have been in some cases catastrophic.From 2021onwards all major events will be looked at with a keen eye to a potential disaster scenario. The unthinkable will become an agenda item – after all, in a year that saw the cancellation of the Olympics, the Edinburgh Festival and pretty much every football match on the planet the future is more difficult to predict than ever.Contracts will be tightened, and cancellation terms carefully re-worded. Venues and suppliers will be trying to protect themselves from losing revenue, while agencies and event managers will be trying to ensure they can avoid paying for an event that may never happen. There will be just as much focus on what happens if an event has to be cancelled as there is on making it a success.

2. Insurance costs

While it would be remiss of any event or exhibition organiser to skimp on insurance, many insurers have excluded communicable diseases from their policies, especially after previous outbreaks of SARS and Avian Flu. On top of flooding and terrorism, the insurance industry will take yet another hit from thousands of coronavirus claims and will be taking steps to protect itself.Event specific insurance policies that include cover for Coronavirus type illnesses will undoubtedly become very difficult to find, and will be subject to stringent terms. Looking forward, insurers may continue to offer communicable disease cover as an optional extension, however this will in most cases exclude Covid-19.Undoubtedly, insurance for events large and small will become a must have (surprisingly this has not always been the case), because let’s face it the next disaster may take a different form.

3. The roles of technology

Events and exhibitions were already using increasing amounts of technology to enhance their events, plus digital marketing to promote events, while social media enabled people to follow events remotely while they were actually happening.However, we're now seeing event organisers look to live streaming to deliver their conference content to delegates sitting at home. How will this translate to events and exhibitions in the future? Will virtual events be the way forward?

Probably not. While the days of the single-meeting flight or the round table meeting for a handful of geographically-dispersed people are pretty much over, medium to large scale exhibitions and events meet a different need.Exhibitions are tactile, and offer opportunities that simply can’t be reproduced electronically, even in the most realistic VR world.  Anyone who has ever attended the Edinburgh Festival, Glastonbury or a World Cup match knows the visceral excitement of being part of a live event and a like-minded group of human beings.However, what the pandemic has taught us is that there are benefits to streaming, VR and online collaboration and it will accelerate the use of these technologies as enhancements and added value to live event programmes.

4. Longer lasting effects on supply and demand

Overall it is in everybody’s interest - venues, cities, organisers, exhibitors, companies, airlines and delegates to get the exhibitions and events industry back to the pre Covid-19 levels of activity. After an extended period of isolation, there will certainly be an appetite for it. The agencies who are experienced and strong enough to survive will still be around to deliver an increased level of business as they pick up events from those who weren’t able to keep going.

Taken from PMLive (Original Source here)