Where is the events sector post-lockdowns and what does the future hold?
In-person events are back! We are delighted to be helping our clients with their conferences, meetings, events and groups again.
The next 6 months are very busy – many conferences and events that were postponed are finally able to go ahead. New events are having to slot in alongside the events that have been moved. If you plan in advance and you can be a little flexible, then you can still get space. The sooner you plan the better.
Have things changed since March 2020?
The simple answer is yes. Meetings and events have more requirements – virtual delegates, team building and sustainability.
Most smaller meetings still contain some virtual element. The simple solution is to run a Zoom/Teams meeting in the meeting room with everyone using their laptops to see the virtual delegates. For a more normal conference experience for those in the room you would need to use full videoconferencing. Cameras and microphones in the room pick up every delegate as they speak and a PA sound system and screen for the virtual delegates to be heard and seen. Many hotels have used the pandemic as an opportunity to upgrade their event tech. Some meeting rooms have built in plasma screens and cameras too. There are many different ways to include virtual delegates and our clients have used various set ups. The full video conference experience is obviously more expensive!
With hybrid working in place, in many companies, regular off site team meetings have returned. People can talk face to face and have those spontaneous conversations that you just cannot have during virtual meetings. Many smaller meetings are now having a “relaxed, fun” element added to them. Maybe even an overnight stay and dinner too! We have written an article on venues that offer teams additional activities to do together: Venues with a Bit More!
Larger meetings are making use of the event technology that was developed so quickly during the pandemic. Many companies are offering delegates at least some virtual options, even if it is just a replay of the main keynote speech online after the event. Some are offering a true hybrid meeting experience to both virtual and in person delegates, opening up their conference to a much larger audience. Platforms that were developed to host virtual meetings have been quickly adapted for hybrid meetings. Event apps enable the in-person delegate to connect to the virtual delegate, they can use the app to network, ask speakers questions and link with sponsors. Another really popular use of the platforms is as a “reattendance” device. In-person delegates also get access to the virtual platform, so they can rewatch key speeches and perhaps even see the breakout sessions that they did not attend. Your conference message can be heard for longer – both for those who attended and for a whole new audience.
Hotel and Venue Response Times
Due to staff shortages many hotels and venues are prioritising looking after events and bookings that are taking place in the hotel. The good news, you can be sure you will get good service when you are there, the bad news is that it is still taking longer to get responses from them about new enquiries and paperwork. Whilst it is frustrating for us not being able to get back to you as quickly as we would like to – at least you know we are the ones chasing the venues for a response on your behalf. Some venues are also limiting the number of events they are able to take, and some are even closing restaurants and kitchens on certain days of the week. As more staff are recruited and trained this situation is slowly improving.
Prices have increased in most destinations because of increased operating costs and because of a very marked increase in demand. Unsurprisingly the biggest increase we have seen has been in London, where accommodation rates are regularly over £250 a night at standard business hotels. We expect that this trend may continue with the increased cost of energy, food and staff.
Many companies are looking at ways of reducing their carbon footprint. Our venue colleagues are all looking at sustainability too. Some venues have even got the ability to tell you the carbon footprint of your event. There are a number of schemes that can help you offset your event carbon footprint. Food waste and food miles are also key areas for venues, with many looking a plant-based menus and locally sourced produce. Visit Britain in partnership with ISLA and Destination Sustainability Movement, have published a guide to planning sustainable events – click here to read.
The events and hospitality sector is recovering. Prices have increased but they will settle soon as demand levels out. The new technology gives event planners a lot exciting possibilities. People who cannot or do not want to travel can still attend conferences remotely and interact with the speakers.
If sustainability is important to you, if you want to include a virtual element in your event or if you want to include some team building – please mention it at the time of booking and HotelRes can help.