Businesses should expect a hybrid approach to events until the end of the year.
This is according to MSP Global who have helped clients adapt to a virtual world throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Bootle-based event production company has seen an upturn in live event bookings in response to the UK Government’s announcement that most remaining restrictions were to be lifted on July 19.
That has restored some market confidence but MSP Director Lisa Richards believes there are still obstacles preventing a full return to live events.
She said: “People want to meet in-person but are still bound by restrictions, either from the local authorities, through their own company policies or for personal reasons.
“We can’t wait to get back into the venues but, with international travel restrictions continuing to be unpredictable, we will see more in-venue hybrid studios with lower numbers.
“This is going to be a key solution for large groups globally to attend a conference together until we can return to some form of normality.”
In January, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Cherpeau said 2021 would be a year of recovery and opportunity, stressing the importance of finding solutions to challenges.
That is a fitting description of the transition from live to virtual events where, following a period of trial and innovation, MSP adopted new streaming technologies, upskilled staff and adapted event strategy to ensure clients could continue delivering key messages to stakeholders.
MSP has delivered around 300 virtual events through the pandemic, working with longstanding clients and also attracting new business to the Liverpool City Region.
Hybrid events combining live and virtual aspects are likely to prove popular in a post-Covid world and Lisa sees a blended approach as an opportunity for venues in the meantime.
She said: “Virtual events can take place from any venue as people still need to work with their immediate team and may need a change of scene.
“This can lend well to hybrid event solutions at venues. Technical costs might be more than for a fully virtual event but, if the end client is not flying in guest speakers or catering for hundreds, they will still save money.
“This can be a win-win all around with the end client saving money and reaching more people.”
Virtual and hybrid events can provide clear benefits for businesses. Matalan were able to share content from their virtual 2020 Autumn/Winter event with over 13,000 employees worldwide while making significant budget savings. United Utilities’ virtual conference broadened reach from 600 delegates to 6000, and Northern Power Women received over 25 million twitter impressions alongside its virtual awards in March.
MSP Director of Operations David Clatworthy said: “A lot of people who we’ve spoken to have said that when they go back to live they are going to stream it out as well.
“They’ve had so much great feedback and love how it has made everybody feel more of a family, bringing more inclusivity.
“We’ve got virtual bookings until December in our main studio and smaller studios and we are also taking bookings for gala events on the road. But I think we’ll find more virtual than live events until at least the end of the year.”
Lisa believes a series of late Downing Street U-turns throughout the pandemic have made it difficult for event planners to think too far ahead.
She said: “The Government’s quick changes and tight guidelines do not help businesses with trying to plan future events and this is leading to an uncertain last quarter with regards to event planning.
“Once all restrictions are lifted, we will start to see more live events being organised. However, many corporate events will only fully come back again next year.”
*For more information on live, virtual and hybrid events contact MSP Global – firstname.lastname@example.org / 0344 811 0901
*This article was also published in Well Connected, the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce’s magazine