What Will Happen To The Events Industry After Coronavirus?

Published on Jun. 25, 2020

The global events industry was valued at more than $1.1B in 2018 and was expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.3% to reach $2.3B in 2026. But, after the COVID-19, those projections have clearly changed. What's going to happen to the events industry after coronavirus? Plug and Play experts have already analyzed the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry as a whole. Today, we're diving deep into the events and meetings sector.

When we talk about events, we're talking about public gatherings such as conferences and exhibitions, corporate events and seminars, promotion and fundraising, trade shows, or music and art performances. 

In 2018, based on type, corporate events and seminars accounted for the majority of events in industry share. In terms of revenue, the sponsorship category generated the highest share in 2018, with 21-40 also being the most active age group to attend. 

A few fast facts:

  • The meetings industry supported 2.5 million jobs.
  • Every dollar spent on face to face meetings and business events generated an additional $1.60 for the U.S. economy.
  • 93% of senior-level business managers said that face to face meetings improve their ability to close deals.

How Has Coronavirus Affected The Events & Meetings Industry

Along with the rest of the travel chain, the events space has experienced and continues to experience a drastic hit, and the $325 billion event planning industry is in jeopardy. Even though many things can be done virtually, many people believe that there's nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting. Now, planners, exhibitors, sponsors and, most importantly, attendees, are reassessing every future event as not only a health risk but a huge financial one too. 

A survey conducted by PCMA on business events professionals showed that 87% of respondents canceled their events, with 66% of those being postponed as a result of COVID-19. The same report provides that 7 out of 10 businesses have switched their events to a virtual platform, and 25% of surveyed have a sense of digital events cannibalizing face-to-face events.

Who Has Been Most Affected By COVID-19?

events industry after coronavirus covid 2

Those businesses directly related to the organization of mass events are facing tough times. Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, many international events planned to take place in 2020 were postponed or canceled, including the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Cannes Film Festival or Coachella festival.

As of May 12th, the US-based event management and ticketing platform Eventbrite was forced to lay-off 45% of its employees and faced a loss of $146.5 million and a drop of 90% in paid ticket revenue in March. Ticketing startup Headliner, which had previously raised 2.9M USD, also faced a need to reduce their team. With mass events being forbidden, the need for ticketing services has reduced as well.

What Will Happen to the Meetings & Events Industry After Coronavirus?

Events and meetings will recover, but it won’t be quite the same

Most people will only attend events that are of true value to them and provide an experiential feeling. Many events will also incorporate some sort of virtual component, allowing those who cannot attend to still join. 

Contracts will be tightened, and cancellation terms carefully crafted. Venues and suppliers will try to protect themselves from losing revenue, while agencies and event managers will try to ensure they can avoid paying for an event that may never happen. 

New Technologies & Startups To Help The Industry

Events and meetings were already using increasing amounts of technology to enhance their events, with the addition of digital marketing for promotions. Even more recently, social media enabled those who couldn't attend to follow events remotely.

Startups that can help event organizers to have a more seamless experience, as well as those offering solutions in the virtual reality space, will generate more attraction and gain recognition. 

  • Troop Travel (Seed): Aggregates thousands of data points, enabling corporate travel managers and meeting planners to select event destinations based on big data, allowing corporations to optimize meetings and event planning. Troop Travel has added a COVID-19 data layer that filters destinations based on daily-updated infection rates and travel restrictions. It has also added functionality for hybrid meetings, where there is a need to select multiple destinations for small groups of people to gather and connect all via technology. 
  • Run The World (Series A): A digital event platform that is designed to host all types of events and features every functionality that a conference organizer might need in a time of a pandemic (and even afterward). The nine-year-old startup has seen consumer adoption soar since February 2020. 
  • Hopin (Seed): An online events platform aiming to replicate the experience and benefits of attending an in-person conference. Their key differentiating feature is that 100,000 people can tune in to presentations happening live on stage. 

Innovation in travel is happening. Don’t be left behind.

At Plug and Play's Travel accelerator we are in touch with corporations and startups that are changing the world as we know it. Join our platform today.

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