Experts Weigh in on What the Event Industry Can Expect This Year
Last year, events around the world were forced to be rescheduled or canceled in favor of maintaining the public's safety as coronavirus cases began to grow around the world. These events, which ranged from professional sports to festivals to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, effectively put the events industry on pause for the foreseeable future until it was safe to gather in large groups.
This shutdown of physical events was a huge blow to the thousands of people who rely on the industry for work. Concessions, security, and convention staff are just a few of the positions that count on the hundreds (if not thousands) of events that occur each year for income.
With vaccines beginning to be distributed and talks of mass rollout on the horizon, many are wondering what the U.S. event industry can expect this year and when event professionals can get back to work. Here’s what experts had to say:
Virtual events will be a mainstay Virtual events became increasingly popular throughout 2020 as people were looking for entertainment while being quarantined. Events like concerts, comedy shows, and movie viewing parties all turned to the internet to garner attention and in some cases, profits. David Meerman Scott, a public speaker, predicts the following: “More organizations will realize they can offer a hybrid— a live event plus the option to participate virtually. I think a lot of events will go to a dual model.” Similarly, others suggest that even when in-person events can resume, anxiety surrounding being in large groups may stop people from attending.
Planned in-person events pushed several months As we get further into 2021, events that were either already scheduled for early in the year or were rescheduled from last year are being pushed further into 2021. For example, the Grammy Awards in LA, which is typically held in January has been pushed to March, and the Governor’s Ball held in NYC was pushed from June to September. With over 200,000 new COVID cases in the U.S. each day, it’s safe to say that any large scale in-person events for the first few months of 2020 will be pushed towards Summer and Fall in hopes of a mass vaccine rollout. These sentiments closely emulate those of Live Nation president Joe Berchtold, who says, “In the key U.S./Western European markets, it continues to be our expectation that by [this] summer, we’re back with our major outdoor shows—our amphitheaters here in the U.S., festivals globally.”
Extremely limited attendance at sporting events Although professional sports found a way to return amidst the pandemic, it’s unlikely we’ll see an abundance of fans return in 2021. Some teams are allowed fans if they stick to local and/or state guidelines, such as the Houston Rockets and the Cincinnati Bengals who are allowing 4,500 and 12,000 fans respectively. Overall, most of the teams are opting to go fan-less in favor of prioritizing safety and looking towards the 2021-2022 season for a more welcoming and “normal” atmosphere.
Large events will have to wait until 2022 According to immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, it’s probable that the U.S. won’t return to our idea of normalcy until 2022 due to the vaccine rollout lasting well into 2021. With that estimation, massive concerts, festivals and the like won’t be safe to attend until the country reaches herd immunity.
People will continue to turn to virtual events for the time being, even when in-person attendance is permitted.
Though some teams are allowing small groups of fans back to the stadiums, most will go fanless until next season.
Events scheduled in early 2021 will be pushed back to later in the year –– possibly even 2022.
Because Eclipse operates in the events sector, we’re hopeful that the industry will begin to recover as soon as it’s safe to. By continuing to practice social distancing and other health and safety measures, we can work together to bring back the events we all miss.