Hybrid events here ‘for a long time’ but organisers struggling with budgets

Planners are struggling to budget for hybrid events as they try to find the balance between taking an event online and managing face-to-face attendee’s expectations, according to research conducted by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).

The survey, which included 531 event industry professional participants (342 planners and 189 suppliers) across Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, China, Korea and Japan, also found that forty-one per cent of planners believe smaller and regional events will come back sooner than larger international events, while 27 per cent believe small in-person events will need to go hybrid, and large events wholly digital.

The survey revealed most business event planners have no intention of travelling any time soon with almost two-thirds (60 per cent) of planners saying they would only travel within their own country for a business event in 2020, while 10 per cent would travel to another country in APAC.

The suppliers reported being more willing to travel, with 48 per cent saying they would only travel in their own country, 17 per cent would travel within APAC and 22 percent would go anywhere, ‘if it was worth it’.

“Some of the results were as predicted, but the real impact COVID-19 has had on business revenue for 2020 was distressing,” said Karen Bolinger, managing director of PCMA APAC.

“The suppliers have taken a bigger financial hit, with 66 per cent of suppliers noting a decline greater than 75 per cent in revenue, compared to 52 per cent of planners. This is a massive impact and shows the vulnerability of many of the companies that deliver events.

“The recovery in China is a major indicator for business events post COVID. The research reveals that the Chinese are expecting a ‘pent-up demand’ for face-to-face events, hence predicting a stronger recovery in 2021 compared to the rest of APAC.

“It is clear that the hybrid delivery of events, both large and small, will be with us for a long time however, we need to ensure the entire event ecosystem is taken along for the journey.”