Events: time to start blending

It has been encouraging to see so many businesses opening up this week as we embark on Step 2 in our Roadmap out of Lockdown, and I am delighted that all those working in non-essential retail, personal care and hospitality in outdoor settings etc., are able to commence rebuilding their business. I genuinely hope it is a one-way journey back to normality for them all.

However, it is a harsh reminder that the Live Event Sector has been unable to operate for more than a year now and there remains considerable uncertainty about when large-scale business conferences, for example, will actually be realised. We were the first industry to stop – events were being cancelled a month prior to the UK’s first lockdown – and we will be the last to restart. Not only do we need to wait a few more months to reach the relevant Step in the Roadmap for our sector to restart (and I concur with the importance of not opening events until it is the right time to do so), but even when we receive the green light, it is apparent the live event sector won’t resume overnight.

A number of Autumn and Winter in-person events have already been postponed ‘until next year’ for the second time, and it’s inevitable that more will follow. There are many reasons for these postponements, ranging from continued uncertainty and whether corporate organisations will send employees to business events, to all manner of economic considerations. But bringing people together for business events remains just as important as ever. People still want to connect with those they don’t get to speak with day to day; they still want to make new connections; they still want to listen, learn and debate and they still want to do business.

So, to anyone thinking about running an in-person event later this year who isn’t able to commit yet, we suggest you consider running a ‘blended event’ and start planning for the online stream of your event now. You can add the in-person stream later and if you are unable to proceed with that stream for whatever reason, you already have your great content in place and an audience primed to attend online – what is there to lose, other than your slot in the annual event calendar if you do nothing!

At Dellar Davies, we have the skills in-house to run online, blended and in-person events and we are ready to support our clients in whatever way they feel most comfortable with as we commence our re-entry to live events! However there are many event businesses and highly skilled event and production individuals who are unlikely to get back to reasonable levels of event business any time soon and who won’t have any financial support to enable them to survive.

One size clearly doesn’t fit all and as we continue our journey out of lockdown, we must continue to make Government aware of the storm that is brewing within the live event sector. I sincerely hope that when the furlough scheme ends in September, it will have a Sector Specific Support Plan in place to protect the livelihoods and the wellbeing of #eventprofs, as well as all those employed in other sectors that are unable to return to anything close to normal by that time.

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