Nearly two thirds of event planners expect live events to return this year

Most event companies will be running just a quarter of events planned for 2020, finds research by Global DMC Partners.

The majority of event professionals (56%) will be running 25% or less of their planned 2020 events, according to a survey conducted by Global DMC Partners (GDP).

While that single statistic shows the enormous impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the global events industry, only 13% of respondents said their events programmes had been completely wiped out. 

On event postponement, nearly nine out of 10 (88%) say that 'some portion' of their 2020 events will be or are already postponed to 2021. Of those, 37% said that at least half or more of their event programmes have been postponed to 2021.

The survey also found that virtual is not considered to be a long-term replacement for face-to-face programmes, with live events and hybrid solutions continuing to be in high demand. 

Compared to GDP’s previous Q1 2020 survey, 20% more planners are reporting a decrease in their meeting budgets for the remainder of this year, and 17% are reporting a cutback in their incentive budgets. These decreases are most apparent among planners outside of the United States. 

"This crisis if anything proves the importance of employee and key partners’ recognition," said Global DMC Partners' president & CEO Catherine Chaulet. "Corporations already see how critical incentives will be to build employee morale back after such tough times.”

When will events return and what will they look like?

While the majority of survey participants were unsure about their budgets for 2021, 64% predict that they will host live events sometime between August 2020 and January 2021.

From the incentives side, most programmes (52%) are still moving forward in 2021. For those not proceeding, only 5% are being replaced by gifts, 4% by cash, 3% by a virtual incentive event and 2% with the option of a personal trip.

Respondents were also asked what new initiatives they will add to live programmes. Not surprisingly, the most popular option (90%) was hand sanitiser stations, followed by placing restrictions to maintain physical distancing between participants (79%), reducing attendee counts (61%) and eliminating buffets to serve plated or boxed meals (66%).

Other new practices include only contracting hotels, venues and event vendors with verifiable sanitation processes (60%), requiring face masks for attendees (40%), providing temperature checks (34%) and providing medical personnel on staff (28%).

The survey questioned 374 respondents from the meetings and events industry and the majority of respondents were based in the United States and Europe.

You can see the full survey results of the Global DMC Partners survey here.

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