Esther Hastings, our independent Research Director and founder of Good Egg Consulting discusses the key insights from the third session with the HeadBox Expert Research Panel.

The HeadBox Expert Research Panel is an industry backed expert panel of up to eight senior stakeholders from all sides of the events industry, who meet for 75 minutes, once a month to discuss and evaluate the continuous impact of Covid-19; the challenges they are facing and their plans and solutions for meeting them.

The reason for conducting this research is to help the events industry give clear, independently validated leadership and guidance to operating events in the post Covid-19 world.

You can watch Esther discuss the full findings below.

10 Key Insights

1. Confidence in a return to face to face events in the UK has dipped

Whilst confidence levels and enquiries had been steadily growing, recent announcements have caused a definite set-back in confidence levels. The result is corporates pushing back events on the roadmap by a not insignificant 3 – 6 months, often to ‘avoid’ the threat of further interruption that winter poses.

2. Face to face meetings are starting to pick up pace and volume

In line with government guidelines, companies are starting to take advantage of the ability to hold external, physical meetings. However, there is a tension emerging for Corporate Event Managers between strict corporate policies and the desires of their internal clients.

3. The role of the office is changing

While it was initially felt that the return to the office was a gateway to return to events, the recent changes to guidelines, and the experience of working remotely is causing the meaning of the office to be re-evaluated. Increasingly corporates are viewing offices as places where people go to meet and collaborate – rather than places where people go to work.

4. Maintaining, managing and delivering policies is a significant resource cost

Policies from both supply and corporates are becoming more complete and concrete. However, they require constantly monitoring and updating as the government guidance changes.

5. Return to office policies are being revisited

Across the board return to office policies are being revisited with measures being rolled back and plans to WFH being extended.

So we have replanned some of the events that we were thinking of a face to face component for – either they’ve moved back again or we’ve gone back to think about how we could now deliver them fully virtually. 

Corporate Booker

6. Wellbeing during Covid-19 is becoming an increasing focus

While there has historically been a focus on revenue generating events, increasingly there is a feeling within the corporate world that morale boosting events are becoming more important  – and even business-critical.

7. Virtual is now being used right across the spectrum of events

As experience of and comfort with virtual events expands, perceptions of their ‘limitation’ against face to face decreases – we’re getting used to the fact they are different face to face and learning to appreciate them.

While creativity in event / experience design has always been key there is a sense it is even more important in virtual. Many feel that ‘traditional’ virtual event activities are quickly becoming fatigued; more quickly than in the physical world as you don’t have the social or physical environment to add differentiation. 

8. The definition of hybrid is evolving and crystallising

Despite demand and conversion being relatively slow for hybrid events, venues are still preparing for delivery.

Tech capability is a critical part of this preparation: reliable, state-of-the-art tech, powerful WiFi and the recruitment of technical experts to design, test and manage tech through events.

9. A need for education around options beyond Zoom is emerging

Most are familiar with Teams and Zoom and increasingly familiar with the scope of and execution of events using those platforms, however education is required around what else there is out there that corporates can use, and how.

10. Despite the continued place for virtual, f2f will always play a role

While virtual and hybrid are likely to become a natural part of the event and meetings makeup going forwards, and despite growing experience with and confidence in those mediums there remains an appetite for face to face.

At the end of the day we are social animals. The moment those concerns are no longer there, I think we’ll go back. There will be probably more hybrid events because we now realise there are alternatives and they are good alternatives but we do love in person.

Corporate Booker

It might not be a linear process back to face to face but there are still clear places where it is preferable when possible – social, networking and deal making events in particular.

Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels