COVID-19 And How It’s Changing The Event Industry
White Paper by Reed Exhibtions
Reed Exhibitions released its White Paper ‘COVID-19 and How it’s Changing the Event Industry’, highlighting findings from its COVID-19 Customer Needs and Mindset Barometer, the largest and most ambitious research project ever undertaken by the company, involving nearly 3,000 exhibitors and over 9,000 attendees across 201 events.
Among its key findings, the Reed Exhibitions COVID-19 Barometer reveals that:
- COVID-19 is accelerating changes in consumer behaviour. 84% of visitors and exhibitors have tried at least one new digital service since lockdown.
- Acceptance of digital tools is increasing over time. On average, visitors had tried 3.3 new digital services in June, rising to 3.5 by September. Exhibitor adoption increased from 3.2 to 3.6 respectively.
- Consumer willingness to adopt digital is reflected in attitudes towards online events. The number of visitors who say they would like to carry out one or more event activities digitally whilst they are unable or unwilling to attend in person is significant, and has increased consistently, from 91% in June to 94% in September.
- Visitor agreement with all positive statements around digital is increasing. 59% of visitors now say they would be likely to sign up to attend an online trade event, up from 57% in June. The percentage who believe that they can still carry out the majority of their event objectives online is also increasing, up from 52% to 57%.
- Exhibitors are more cautious about online tools than visitors. 43% believe that they can still carry out the majority of their event objectives online. Verbatim responses reveal that one of their key concerns is that attendees will not engage in digital events – a belief not borne out by attendee data.
- Engagement with digital activities increases with familiarity and exposure. For example, participants in travel events, which have a long tradition of using online meeting tools to arrange physical meetings, are much more comfortable with the idea of using live meeting software in a digital environment.
- COVID-19 has not diminished the value of in-person events for participants who are committed to returning as soon as restrictions are lifted. Throughout the period of the tracking survey, the importance of events has remained consistent for both exhibitors and visitors.
- While exhibitors remain sure they will spend less while the pandemic continues to unfold and prior to there being a vaccine, around two-thirds of exhibitors expect to return to normal levels (or spend more) once a vaccine is developed.
- Customers are increasingly open to the idea of engaging with digital alongside in-person events as they return. 65% of visitors and 57% of exhibitors believe digital will continue to work for events after COVID-19.