Improved confidence among event planners, finds survey

The percentage of planners sourcing and booking future business has gone up by 14 per cent in two weeks, according to Northstar Meetings Group research.

The pulse survey, carried out among 224 planners, found 43 per cent of respondents currently sourcing and booking future business, up from 29 per cent in the previous survey.

Meanwhile, almost three quarters of planners are looking at providing virtual alternatives to run concurrently with physical events. In an indication of the industry’s direction of travel, 74 per cent of planners are considering running hybrid events in the future.

Other figures from the survey suggest planners see their future events being attended by fewer people, in redesigned meeting rooms, with more hygiene and safety protocols in place. The survey reveals that 75 per cent of respondents are looking at reducing and managing crowd densities and 84 per cent are considering developing meeting room designs to encourage physical distancing.

83 per cent are thinking of adopting social responsibility best practices, such as protocols for ill attendees, while 85 per cent are considering providing signage around prevention and control measures. And 91 per cent of planners are considering providing hand sanitiser on-site for staff and attendees.

Other results from the survey show a slight week-on-week shift in attitudes:

– 86 per cent of respondents were very or somewhat concerned about travel policy updates restricting business travel, compared to 90 per cent last week.

– 83 per cent of respondents were very or somewhat concerned about reduced demand for in person meetings and events, compared to 84 per cent last week.

– 83 per cent of respondents were very or somewhat concerned about reduced meeting and event budgets, compared to 82 per cent last week.

Further ahead

Working with suppliers is currently “more difficult” or “very difficult” for 70 per cent of planners, up from 64 per cent last week. However, 23 per cent reported that they had not had any problems working with suppliers.

Q4 is the earliest events are being rescheduled for 37 per cent of planners, compared to 47 per cent last week. Q1 2021 is the earliest for 30 per cent of planners, while just 5 per cent of planners are scheduling events prior to September.

For new meetings, there is a shift to looking further ahead. 37 per cent of planners are looking to Q1 2021, a fall from 43 per cent last week. The percentage of planners looking at 2022 and later as the earliest time for new meetings has more than doubled in the last week, from 4 per cent to 9 per cent.

More than half (53 per cent) of planners think that cancellation terms are set to be more forgiving. 21 per cent expect contracts to allow cancellation without penalty, while another 21 per cent think terms will be even more stringent. Just 5 per cent expect no changes to cancellation clauses.

Improving outlook

41 per cent of planners think that they will be planning fewer meetings than previously over the subsequent 12-18 months once the threat of Covid-19 has passed, while just 7 per cent think they will be planning more. 30 per cent expect levels to be around the same and the remaining 23 per cent say it’s too soon to know.

54 per cent of planners expect to organise fewer international events as a result of Covid-19, compared to 56 per cent last week.

The outlook is improving across different types of events. For example, 56 per cent of those that plan festivals and fairs expect to do fewer such events over the 12-18 months following Covid-19, compared to 68 per cent last week. Similarly, 47 per cent of trade show and exhibition planners are expecting to see a reduction in the same period, compared to 58 per cent last week.

The research was based on the responses of 224 planners over the period of May 20 – June 2. Northstar Meetings Group’s pulse survey looks to ascertain how meeting and event planners have been managing the Covid-19 crisis.