On Wednesday 29 July, Dr James Morgan, Principal Lecturer in Events, hosted an online discussion about how the events industry has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was attended by over 200 event industry professionals from all over the world.

Screenshot of panellists on online webinar about the impact of COVID-19 on the events industry

Dr James Morgan invited a panel of experts from Canada, China, Finland and the US to discuss the challenges of how to stay in business during the pandemic and beyond during the global recession predicted by the International Monetary Fund. The panel discussion was moderated by Westminster Conference and Events Management MA alumnus Miguel Neves and was viewed by over 200 event professionals live on YouTube.

Attendees discussed the results of a poll about staffing, business premises and the continued survival of their businesses. On staffing, the July poll showed a combination of staffing measures had been taken to reduce costs. 52 per cent of companies had reduced employee working hours and 48 per cent of companies had made redundancies. This shows a large increase on the data gathered in May, where 26 per cent of respondents had furloughed full time employees, whilst only 13 per cent of companies have let full time employees go. 

On the poll taken in May about business premises, 42.4 per cent stated that they would consider downsizing office spaces. The recent poll showed a smaller percentage had taken any action on premises cost reduction, with only 15 per cent having plans to reduce office size. However, 10 per cent in the July poll stated they would be moving out of their premises to work remotely in the future. When asked if their business would survive in the next 6-12 months, in the May poll nearly 40 per cent of respondents were not sure. However, the July poll gave the industry some hope with 64 per cent saying they expected to survive. 

The event feeds into Dr Morgan’s event industry report ‘Covid-19 Business Impact Study’, the first phase in a three-phase research project about how the industry is dealing with the pandemic. The event also provided an opportunity to gather live data, both quantitative using polls and qualitative using the expert opinions, to supplement the original data collected in March 2020. 

Attendees provided positive feedback for the event, commending its informative nature and offered hopes that the event could be repeated. As a result, a further online session has been planned to provide more insights for the project once the second phase data has been analysed and when the planned third phase of interviews has been incorporated into a final research paper.

Talking about the event and his live data collection, Dr James Morgan said: “In the current environment, using online gatherings where a specific research sample can be targeted in collecting data is a method that is robust. The method simplifies data collection protocols and the time lag in recording data, whilst at the same time provides a knowledge exchange mechanism.”

Read the full COVID-19 Business Impact Study on the WestminsterResearch website.

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