Following the relaxation of government COVID safety restrictions, H&E North speaks to event profs about the current industry landscape and potential challenges ahead.
Northeast Events Coordinator, Jennifer Duffy of NBS, reflected on the cultural change in the events industry since restrictions have lifted, following the work-from-home mentality with event delegates:
“As an event organiser, I like nothing more than the buzz of in-person events, with attendees engaged in the moment and taking advantage of those all-important networking opportunities. But while I understand why delegates would want to return to in-person events, in reality I believe there will still be a heavy feeling of hesitancy coming back.
“We need to remember that most of us have been working remotely for two years and have become comfortable at home. Our lifestyles have changed completely, and this isn’t going to change back overnight alongside the swift lifting of COVID restrictions.
“Delegates are now well familiar with the convenience of digital events, allowing them to dip in and out of content from the comfort of their own home. While the relaxation of safety measures will certainly help the return of in-person events, the real problem now lies within this changed mindset.”
The Funny Side
Adam Rushton is Director at A Rush of Laughter, a comedy agency based in the North West supplying entertainment for corporate events: “It’s the best time right now to be a comedy booker, with a full market of acts which you’d have never got before the pandemic,” he said.
“The entertainment sector had a heavy start coming back to operate properly again, but we’ve emerged from the pandemic stronger than before, and optimistic going forward with in-person events. Our tours are now getting back up and running to the regular venues, and our acts have been travelling all over the UK and overseas. Health and safety guidelines are now solely up to the individual venue, and we’ll always support how they decide to operate.
“Virtual events still have a presence in the comedy circuit, which has proven to work well for corporate events booked by businesses with nationwide offices and has its own advantages for clients and higher earning potential for comedians. But a live audience is something that a comic always thrives from and guarantees a successful show as they get a feel for the room. It’s a quality factor that makes in-person comedy events a better experience for everyone involved.
“With COVID restrictions easing off, we’re now facing new challenges which can emerge unexpectantly. Right now, we’re seeing the growing cost of fuel prices, and as we arrange in-person events we must be more conscious in our decision making on travel and how to make a sustainable profit.”
Midlands Event Management firm Cloud 9’s Director, Paula Kelsey, further highlighted potential new challenges affecting the interest of in-person events for both planners and delegates:
“We’re finding that clients are far less concerned about any safety or cleaning protocols since restrictions have eased. But one issue that all of them are raising however is delegate cancellations and any last-minute no shows.
“The majority of venues are proving to be very flexible and accommodating in this area, but there are still some event planners who have unrealistic cancellation policies relating to delegates attending an event. This issue should start to fade as the majority of clients continue to feel the need to engage properly with events again in-person, rather than over a screen.
“It is of paramount importance service levels remain strong during live events, so attracting enthusiastic, passionate, and professional workers into hospitality is also one of the biggest challenges ahead. We can only manage client expectation up to a point as agents, and the quality of hospitality must improve to justify the rising rates resulting from increased organising costs.
“Despite the new and varying challenges facing the industry, we remain a strong sector filled with innovative and energetic individuals who love what they do. I feel we are definitely in for a bright future, albeit vastly different to the one we worked within pre-pandemic.”