Broker News: Outdoor Events and what can be expected moving forward

The events industry is worth around £39 billion to the UK economy and has been heavily affected in the last 17 months and very little support has been provided to this industry. As we emerge from this unprecedented period, assisted by the vaccination programme, various health and safety support and by the provision of suitable market confidence, the general public are keen again to support this popular industry.

However, things have changed. Even though restrictions are being lifted, we can all expect to see a difference in how events are run. We take a look at how this is going to affect outdoor events for the foreseeable future.

One of the primary focuses for outdoor events moving forward, even after restrictions are lifted will be suitable social distancing. Previously a lot of public outdoor events have been relaxed about allowing entry and egress on a free flow basis but moving forward the focus will be to put a lot more effort into controlling this, to avoid further spread of the virus.

Industry leaders have said this may come in the form of various controllable factors. Things like staggered entry by providing tickets for certain entry times, to minimise queueing and also for organisers to embrace automation during entry and egress to avoid event staff coming into contact with those entering. It has been suggested that this may take the form of turnstiles with barcode or QR code entry.

There will still be outdoor events where it will be difficult to discourage crowding. For example, outdoor festivals and live music events are not expected to get back to normal until later this year or even the beginning of next year. This is due to the difficulty around suitable assessment procedures to prevent and minimize crowding around staging and entry to these events.

There have been a few events by industry leaders that have had some success and these types of events will be watched closely to help set a benchmark moving forward. Some things that have been agreed by organisers are that toilets and other temporary facilities will need to be sanitized more often during events, public signage should be displayed where possible to remind people of social distancing, hand sanitizing stations made available, there has also been talks about temperature screening, compulsory requirements to wear masks and allocation of isolation zones being made for larger events.

Outdoor events involving passive activities, such as displays and shows have been encouraged to adjust their operations in favour of curtailing entry and allotting space to view these events, as they generally require little to no participation from the spectators.

For example, a lot of these types of events have opted to change their format to a ‘drive-in’ approach where tickets are charged per car or occupant and each ticket holder is allocated a place, of which they do not move from for the entirety of the event.

Another issue the above examples have created is the reduction in revenue by curtailing expected attendance. It is suggested that this may be assisted by embracing other event provision channels, one of the most popular examples is the provision of event catering.

For example, some industry leaders are hiring vendors to walk-in events and encourage the sale of related merchandise or consumables, this will also assist with less queueing. Others have opted to encourage those purchasing tickets online to also pre-order consumables and merchandise, to collect on arrival at the event, these can also be bespoke to increase profit range, such as food and drink hampers with event branded clothing, like shirts or hats.

A lot of the examples discussed above are going to require advanced planning and with the industry being dormant since the first lockdown, it will need a lot of financial support to help it implement this new format.

Event organisers depend on the success of their previous events to inject the funds they need to organise their next one. However, in the last 17 months little to no events have taken place, this support will need to come from somewhere and lets all hope that it can be agreed soon.