By Brad Foster

Uncertainty is widespread but optimism is growing, with almost 70 per cent of event professionals recently surveyed by audio visual company AV1 now feeling “slightly optimistic” about the events industry over the coming 12 to 18 months.

AV1’s Market Research Survey was sent to the company’s database and completed by event professionals at various levels of management working for organisations of all sizes from a wide selection of industries throughout Australia.

One of the most promising findings was that respondents said they want to plan live events but currently their hands are tied.

Sixty-eight per cent said they would attend an in-person event right now but 78 per cent said the risk was still too high, with more than a third saying their company policy does not allow them to attend events at present.

The main challenges faced by event professionals now and into 2021 are government restrictions (72 per cent), fear of reduced registrations and attendance (50 per cent), limited budgets (28 per cent), company policies (28 per cent) and lack of resources (14 per cent).

You’re still figuring out virtual, and you’re not a fan

When asked about their level of understanding of virtual event technology, responses were varied. A third of respondents felt they had very limited knowledge and were uncomfortable with planning virtual events. Around half of respondents felt comfortable with virtual platforms and only 19 per cent felt very knowledgeable.

When it comes to whether event professionals prefer to plan or attend live, hybrid or virtual events, the overwhelming majority was live events at 66 per cent and 77 per cent respectively.

Zero respondents preferred to plan virtual events and just two per cent preferred to attend virtually.

Bye bye budgets

The economic impact of COVID-19 has taken its toll on budgets, the survey found. The number of respondents who had event budgets of more than $1 million prior to the pandemic has more than halved since COVID.

Perhaps surprisingly, those whose budgets were less than $10k prior to COVID-19 has almost doubled since the pandemic.

The great hope – a vaccine

Unsurprisingly, when asked what would help to overcome challenges, common responses included a vaccine, lifting of restrictions and clarity on covidsafe guidelines so that events can resume.

Without clear milestones and dates to work towards, event planners are in the dark when it comes to deciding when to hold an event, where to hold it, and what format to run with. This is leading to incredibly short lead times for suppliers, stress and anxiety for event planners and affecting the quality of the end result for audiences, the survey found.

On a more positive note, many respondents found that the pandemic has allowed them more time for family and for themselves, has provided time for reevaluating life and career choices, has led to innovation in the industry, has led to new skills and opportunities in virtual and hybrid event planning.

AV1 managing director, Keith Wootton, told micenet the research finding have shown that event professionals are a resilient and optimistic bunch.

“Despite being thrown in the deep end with so much out of their control and having to rethink events in a virtual world, most have taken it in their stride and learnt a whole lot along the way,” he said.

“I have much respect for clients and fellow suppliers who have dug their heels in and fought the fight these past months. Can’t wait until Christmas!”

Neither can we Keith… neither can we!