Virtual Events Are the Safest Bet Through Fall 2021, Say the Industry Pros
This year’s million dollar question: when will in-person events actually be able to happen again? Realistically, no one has a concrete answer yet and there’s still a lot of confusion along with conflicting opinions. However, industry pros weighed in on the question in two recent surveys. Read our recap of the American Express 2021 Global Meetings and Events Forecast and the Meetings Outlook (MPI) 2021 Winter Survey below.
Expectations for a Full Recovery
When do meeting and event industry professionals think business will return to pre-pandemic levels? Per the MPI survey data, 86% see “2022 or later” as likely; 46% of planners and 42% of suppliers put “2022” as their top answer.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Connection
Overall, meeting professionals’ optimism continues to grow—but that optimism correlates to distribution of a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine.
A majority (53%) of MPI survey respondents agree that “Yes,” their next in-person meeting will be contingent on the distribution of a safe and effective vaccine, with 31% saying “Maybe.” Forty-one percent of those who answered “Yes” to the question expect to return to live events in three to six months (approximately mid-2021); 36% see that timeframe extended to six to twelve months.
“That meetings and events play an invaluable role was evident in the speed with which global organizations transitioned from in-person to virtual events. The message is clear: meetings have to happen.”
— American Express 2021 Global Meetings and Events Forecast
Virtual Events Projected to Dominate In-Person Meetings
With many meeting professionals waiting to hold in-person events until widespread vaccine distribution takes place, attendance forecasts for virtual events understandably dominate those for in-person events.
MPI respondents projected virtual attendance rates at a 79% positive forecast versus a 32% positive forecast for live, in-person attendance.
“If you’re an event planner who’s felt isolated and unsure during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Our team’s been busy helping planners transition in-person meetings to virtual events — or one of the new hybrid models. We’ve found creative ways to bring communities together, and enjoy showing clients how they can adapt to today’s realities.”
— Laurel Miller, Seamless Events CEO
Based on its recent interviews with industry leaders, MPI notes those involved with in-person events have new tactical and psychological aspects to consider.
In-person event: Key considerations for 2021-22
- Airline requirements
- Safety protocols at venues and hotels
- Loss of planning expertise at hotels and convention centers due to extensive layoffs
- Reduced trade show participation
- Perception of both travel and safety at large-group events
- Ongoing economic issues for organizations that reduce travel
What Venues Need to Know
When it comes to in-person events, American Express survey respondents named “disinfection and social distancing protocols” their top factor influencing location selection. Additionally, they named mid-tier properties their top choice for 2021 events (36.9%), followed by nontraditional meeting facilities at 16.8%, resort properties at 16.2% and luxury properties at 15.4%.
As planning for this year and 2022 continues, our industry continues to share lessons learned and best practices. With millions of vaccinations already administered, let’s hope we are quickly on our way to recovering and being able to meet in-person sometime soon.
Remember, if you are planning a virtual event, Seamless Events can help. Check out some of the virtual events we’ve produced and schedule a free consultation to see what we can do for you.