New study shows return of face-to-face events this year with vaccines driving confidence

New research from the US has shown the majority of attendees and exhibitors plan to return to face-to-face events by the third quarter of 2021.

According to the study by Freeman, 78 per cent of attendees expect to attend in-person events from September, increasing to 94 percent from December. Exhibitors are just slightly more optimistic.

Further, 85 per cent of respondents say in-person events are irreplaceable because of their ability to drive commerce and networking that creates partnerships and innovation.

“The events industry was one of the hardest hit during COVID-19,” said Bob Priest-Heck, CEO of Freeman.

“This research shows a light at the end of the tunnel with confidence in returning to in-person events up from an all-time low last spring. When events return, commerce returns — by not only providing a platform for small business and larger corporations, but also benefiting the travel, hospitality, and tourism industries as well.”

The research also found that vaccines were a key driver of confidence, with 86 per cent more confident in returning to large in-person events once vaccinated. Trade show attendees, suppliers and exhibitors report being more willing to immediately receive the vaccine than the average person in the US.

Manufacturing will return to in-person first followed by technology, retail and finally healthcare.

The overall Confidence Index in returning to in-person events now is at 75 per cent, up from an all-time low last spring in the 40s.

Sixty-eight percent of attendees and 71 percent of exhibitors expect to have no corporate travel restrictions by Q3 2021.

“While we are encouraged by the accelerated return for in-person events, the right timing for individual events will depend on the industry, the event type and regionality,” said Priest-Heck.

“We’ve already seen many events conducted safely with the correct health and safety measures in place. As more shows do so, we anticipate that this will support the easing of regulations for business events and allow for the return of face-to-face meetings more quickly.”