The impact of Coronavirus on the UK Events Industry
The UK’s events industry covers an extremely important role in the UK’s economy, and in our lives.
Events bring communities together, facilitate the share of information, knowledge, and trends, and also attract international audiences to the UK, boosting and complementing the UK tourism industry.
The whole industry is stalled since the lockdown was announced in March and the social distancing rules came into place.
Let’s explore the after-maths of the pandemic effect and the solutions that the event professionals came out with in order to survive.
How much is the UK events industry worth?
The events industry is incredibly important to the UK economy, employing more than 700,000 people across the country, 115,000 are estimated to work in the conference, exhibitions and indoor events sectors, 600,000 in the outdoor event industry. A human capital on which the sector relies, thanks to their creativity, resilience, and commitment.
According to BVEP‘s latest report “The UK Events Report”, events alone contribute a whopping £70bn a year, accounting for over 50% of the UK visitor economy, with business events generating over £31bn of direct spend and with leisure events contributing a further £39bn.
The UK boasts a broad range of great event locations suitable for hosting world-class events and is gifted with a network of talented and creative suppliers and organisers offering solutions and state-of-the-art technology and equipment for events.
Furthermore, events play a vital role in professional development, team building and performance improvement, community enrichment, charitable donations, celebrations, personal enjoyment and fulfilment, and a wide range of other benefits for individuals, communities, and businesses.
How did Coronavirus affect the UK Events Industry?
What we are currently experiencing is the worst global recession since World War II, and the events industry will probably be one of the last to return to business.
Eventsforce conducted a survey in late April 2020 titled “The Impact of Coronavirus on Meetings & Events”, collecting the views of over 550 event planners dealing with the catastrophic pandemic effects.
The survey reveals that 45% of events have been postponed, 27% of events have been cancelled, 50% are moving their small-scale event online with streamed sessions, virtual attendee engagement, and networking. In fact, of those making the move to virtual, only 24% are moving the entire in-person event experience online. Finally, 20% are not moving their events online, mostly due to concerns in replicating events to virtual models.
Furthermore, it appears that the top 3 challenges organisers currently face are: planning things in a fluid environment, deciding whether to cancel, postpone or shift to virtual and changing contracts terms with suppliers/sponsors/exhibitors.
VisitBritain recently released a proposal document “Helping the tourism industry recover from Covid-19: Proposals for government May 2020”. The document shows the damage the pandemic creates, with total loss forecast of about £58bn across the industry. Corporate events have cancellation levels of 55% in Q2 and Q3, while outdoor events have lost the majority of the 2020 season.
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which represents 65 festivals in the UK, reports 92% of its members saying they face costs that could ruin their businesses as a result of cancelled events, with the vast majority (98.5%) not covered by insurance for cancellation related to Covid-19.
A lost summer of festivals has a wide-reaching impact across the live music sector, which is expecting to suffer £900m in losses this year, or 81% of its annual contribution to the UK economy, according to figures from lobbying body UK Live Music Group.
Currently, over 9 million workers across the UK are now covered by the government’s furlough scheme. The scheme has been brought in to mitigate the effects of Coronavirus, allows employees to receive 80% of their monthly salary up to £2,500. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended to the end of October, furloughed staff will be able to return to work part-time from August, with employers sharing the salary costs with the government.
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, as it is known, differs from the furlough scheme because it is a grant paid out in a single instalment covering three months and amounting to 80% of average profit. By 31st May, 2.4 million out of 3.4 million of the potentially eligible population had claimed a SEISS grant with the value of these claims totalling £7 billion. The average value per claim was £2,900.
When will live events return?
We are unaware as to when events will return in full force.
The reality is that if the virus continues to spread, we won’t be able to safely congregate indoor.
We need to be prepared for the moment physical events will come back. When they will, we will have safety measures in place, and virtual tools integrations, as part of the new normal.
The Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) started promoting the concept of a distinction between ‘organised events’ and ‘mass gatherings’. While it’s difficult to manage ‘mass gatherings’, ‘organised events’ are possible with the support of social distancing rules.
The new government guidelines released a few days ago confirm that wedding will resume from 4th July. Only ceremonies of a maximum of 30 attendees will be allowed, whether these take place indoors or outdoor. It will be mandatory for attendees to respect social distancing and avoiding singing. Also, newlyweds will be required to wash their hands before the exchange of rings.
Undoubtedly the impact of Covid-19 will have changed how we work forever. However, thanks to the technology available and the skilled network of professionals working in the industry, the events will weather the storm and come back stronger.