Majority of events cancelled or postponed due to Coronavirus says new research

Majority of events cancelled or postponed due to Coronavirus says new research
With findings that will surprise very few of our readers, a research study focused on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the events industry has found half of all event organisers moving their events online, with a majority hosting smaller-scale events with streamed sessions, virtual attendee engagement and networking.

The research study, ‘The Impact of Coronavirus on Meetings & Events’ was carried out by Eventsforce in April, based on the findings from more than 550 event professionals in the UK and US across corporate, associations, government and education institutions, PCOs and event management agencies. 

The study reports that that 45% of organisers have postponed events, with 27% cancelling and an additional 25% searching for alternative solutions to move events online. 

Many of the postponed events have been rescheduled for the latter half of 2020, with 36% of events being rescheduled for the autumn, 11% rescheduled for the winter and another 25% moving their events to 2021. 23% of respondents are yet to decide. 

George Sirius, CEO, Eventsforce said: “The results show that the Coronavirus outbreak has had a shocking impact on our industry with the cancellation of many major events this quarter. More than 50% have also postponed their events to later in the year - while others like Facebook and Microsoft won’t be hosting any large physical events until summer 2021.

For some companies and organisers, a decision to cancel, reschedule or jump to digital prove to be a great challenge, with 66% of respondents reporting difficulties in planning due to the fluidity and uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, as well as changing contract terms with suppliers, sponsors and exhibitors (34%) and a 28% experiencing challenges with dealing with refunds and cash flow issues. 

Almost 30% are experiencing difficulties relating to job cuts and long-term financial loss.

Productivity is another area that is impacting some event planners – with 17% having difficulties in keeping teams motivated, and another 14% finding remote work a challenge.

Digital Push

While a push towards digital events is seen by many as a necessary and indeed, for some a natural step both in relation to the current crisis and as a natural evolution of the how the industry conducts business in the 21st century, the move for many is complicated by the nature of some events. 

43% of respondents highlighted difficulty in replicating events to a virtual model as presenting a key hurdle to overcome in the organisation of digital events, which could stop organisations from hosting an event in a virtual forum, as well as uncertainty on whether attendees would take part and a lack of experience in running online events. 

Some organisers are also concerned that the technology may experience difficulties, which could have a damaging impact on the event itself. 

Getting the right platform 

When asked which kind of technology that organisers are likely to use for virtual events, Zoom came out on top with 75% of respondents identifying the platform as the most likely to use the platform to conduct events, with 40% aiming to identify platforms that would support live streaming sessions and 25% considering video sharing platforms such as Vimeo for streaming of pre-recorded content. 

Only 13% have identified live streaming sessions through social media tools such as Facebook Live as a possibility for event hosting. 

Finding a new focus 

70% of respondents to the study stated that they have more time on their hands as a result of the pandemic, with 54% finding a new focus on education and personal development, 50% making improvements to event planning processes and 51% ramping up marketing activities. 

In addition, 37% of organisers are taking steps to evaluate their event technology with another 36% actively making improvements to the way that they collect, manage and secure event data.