“The COVID-19 pandemic has, as we all know, hit the business events industry with unprecedented force,” the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) said introducing a survey of its members.
Among the 69 percent of respondents (1,230 individuals) who identified as business event professionals (the remaining 31 percent identified as suppliers serving business events professionals), the majority (87 percent) say they have cancelled an event as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Event cancellations, as reported by respondents, were minimal in February but then exploded the following month, with events planned for March,
April, May and June seeing the largest numbers of cancellations. Through the rest of the year, cancellations—so far—drop off; however, several respondents said that their events have been canceled through 2020. Some even reported already canceling 2021 events.
Many of the reasons for cancelling the events are what you would expect: travel and gathering bans; social distancing requirements; attendee cancellations; attendee worry and fear, as well as a fear of putting employees at risk; and more. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they will be more specific with the wording of their contract language in the future, specifically surrounding cancellations and what unforeseen circumstances the force majeure covers.
Another two-thirds (66 percent) said they have postponed an event as a result of COVID-19. More than one-quarter have yet to determine a new date. Sixty-one percent said they are in the midst of deciding whether to cancel or postpone an upcoming an event.
Virtual experiences are becoming a major component of events, with 18 percent saying their events were “completely” moved from face-to-face to a virtual platform; another 52 percent said a portion of the content was moved to a virtual platform. The most common virtual events include Q&A and chat and interactive features, a webinar and livestreamed speakers.
PCMA received responses from 1,776 people over a five-day span starting April 1.