By Joyce DiMascio

As 2020 draws to a close, the business events industry has done its scenario planning for 2021. With international travel a long way off, the best possible scenarios for organisers and owners are based on the return of meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions and special events for largely domestic audiences.

According to major organisers and PCOs, international association, incentive and corporate events are unlikely to resume on any significant scale until 2022. That’s assuming all things go well will the containment of the virus, the availability of a vaccine and the resumption of travel between Australia and the rest of the world.

Managing director of Diversified Communications, David Longman is looking forward to welcoming attendees, exhibitors and partners back in 2021 after running only one event this year, cancelling nine events in the Mumbrella portfolio and 10 expos. These mostly moved to a digital or virtual format to keep the brands in the marketplace and the databases up to date, he says.

“In the short term, outside of hygiene factors like customers needing to feel safe at live events, the biggest issue we have facing us right now is business confidence,” he said.

“In the medium term, it will take a while for the markets we serve to bounce-back. Some industries have been severely impacted while others less so. It will take a couple of years in my view to normalise.

“However, this is where I see great opportunity for new entrants to the market. We need to shake things up.”

David Longman said that if we come back from this pandemic trying to do everything exactly the same, then the industry will have failed. He says it’s essential for events to return refreshed and with innovations.

Roslyn McLeod OAM, founder and chair of Arinex says 2020 was the year her team pulled rabbits out of hats. She describes it as a “magical year.”

“We thought we’d never get through this year but what the staff have achieved is awe- inspiring. Because of the positivity of the staff and their ability to adapt and learn new skills, we are set-up for 2022. We’ll get to 2022 and prosper again,” she said.

Co-owner of Fourth Wall, Jeremy Garling, says his company has had a very hard but “spectacular” year after transitioning to broadcast events early in the lock-down period.

“In 2020, we will have achieved 70 percent of our 2019 results,” he said.

This outcome is a long way from the experience of the majority of organisers, venues and suppliers but it does reflect that out of the crisis, some businesses have created new opportunities because of their capacity to adapt and move quickly and invest in research and development.

Diversified Communications Australia’s first event for 2021 is AOG Energy,  which will take place between March 10-11 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A focussed and positive David Longman said: “Let’s be loud and proud about the return of live events, let’s not make them “good”, let’s make them great and let’s keep working together towards a brighter events future.”