With the economy opening up, when will live events resume?

When will events resume post COVID-19? And what exactly will they look like? We discussed this and more at this month’s Gathering Minds meeting. Gathering Minds is Meetingmax’s monthly discussion around top trends in the events industry. Once a month we gather with the Meetingmax team and our clients to learn from one another and discuss how these trends can affect us. Interested in joining us? Sign up here. 

There’s currently a lot of conflicting information circulating; some large events are full steam ahead for August (Connect Marketplace) and September (IMEX America) while other major corporations (Microsoft and Facebook) have postponed all events over 50 people until mid 2021. What are we to make of this?


When will events resume? 

Experts are saying at best events will resume Q4 2020. At worst, Q3 2021. 

This article from Event Manager Blog shares a great risk assessment of hosting events:

The May edition of Meetings & Conventions Magazine shares data from their recent survey of over 1000 respondents, with the majority (54%) stating that the earliest they are rescheduling meetings and events is September to year-end 2020. 

Events Resume: Meeting & Conventions May 2020

Northstar Meetings Group’s recent article is now saying to expect further delays for live events. “Many who were bullish on holding their rescheduled meetings this year have tempered their expectations. Those who intended to go ahead in 2020 with the meetings they had put on hold dropped to 58 percent, down from 71 percent. More of that business will roll into 2021, as 39 percent foresee holding those delayed events next year at the earliest; another 3 percent will wait until 2022 or beyond.” 

What type of events can we expect?

While this is good information to digest, I think the real question is what type of events can we expect to see sooner rather than later? Clearly we’re all chomping at the bit for large tradeshows and conferences to resume but, based on the U.S. guidelines to reopening, it will likely be small, regional events that open first. 

Events Resume: COVID-US-Phased-Reopening-Infographic-by-Cowen

This is a great opportunity for Convention & Visitor Bureaus to rebuild community in their regions. It will be some time still until the general public is open to flying so marketing to other regions within driving distance will be critical. 

Germany and China recently announced that trade shows can start resuming. We’ll all be keeping a close eye on how that plays out. 

What will events look like?

Even with the greenlight to resume trade shows abroad, events will look very different until herd immunity is confirmed. Event planners need to now consider the following:

  • Social distancing; traditional ballrooms will now fit a fraction of the attendees they previously held with proper 6 ft social distancing between seats.  
  • On site sanitation; Increased cost for cleaning and sanitary services will need to be budgeted. 
  • Hotel sanitation; If guests are staying at hotels, event organizers will need to have a thorough plan in place with host hotels on how they will be managing their properties.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE); If your event consists of face to face meetings, you’ll have to allow for appropriate PPE for all attendees, be it masks, gloves, or protective barriers. 
  • Safety protocols; how do you manage and support guests who show symptoms? 
  • Insurance; How do you protect your company and your event attendees? 

What would you need to have in place to feel comfortable attending an event today? Personally, I would love the ability to be able to test myself for COVID-19 before heading home to my loved ones.

In conclusion

There are currently too many variables to know exactly when events will resume. A lot depends on how things play out with the events that do forge ahead. If there’s an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, attendee confidence will be shattered and we won’t see a resurgence until a vaccine is developed or herd immunity is proven. If events proceed without hiccups, things will start to move more quickly.

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