Dr James Morgan, Principle Lecturer in Event Design, created a global research report about the predicted impact of COVID-19 on the events industry and the stance that some organisations may take in the near future.

Business conference event attendees sitting and listening to a speaker in event hall

Due to the significant reduction in demand for events due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dr James Morgan conducted a global survey of 675 participants from 59 countries to understand what the events industry will look like in a post-COVID-19 era. It also considers the global economic contraction predicted by the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and development over the rest of the year.

The research explored three key areas of staffing, premises and capital management, all of which have a strong influence on business survival in a recession, which three quarters of respondents indicated that they expected to have to plan for. The findings also indicated that significant staff lay-offs and furloughs, with over 25 per cent of respondents having furloughed full-time employees, while 13 per cent have made job cuts.

Dr Morgan found that nearly 40 per cent of all of those surveyed implied that the business they are involved in may not exist within its current form within the next 6-12 months and urged that alterations to the realignment of the costs are imperative in order to stay afloat.

There was also significant evidence from respondents that downsizing, sharing and the relocation of premises to decrease premises costs was taking place throughout the sector. As a service-based industry that relies on networks of people meeting in a live environment, the report suggested that the events industry is not well positioned to see demand returning to the levels experience in 2019, with one third of respondents suggesting that demand will significantly decrease due to the pandemic. 66 per cent of respondents also said that a downward change in pricing is needed for the sector to survive.

It was also widely understood that many companies are taking advantage of government loan schemes or approaching banks for loans. However, there is anecdotal evidence that as business valuations decrease in 2020, cash rich companies may start to acquire devalued companies, or merge both vertically with a supply chain and horizontally with competitors.

Talking about the research, Dr James Morgan said: “We have seen some parallels to recession planning from 1991 and 2009 where business have had to take similar actions to stay afloat. What is different about this ‘health recession’ is that working from home has become habitual on a large scale. This amplified factor needs to be taken account of in the wider economy as it has negative implications for the commercial property market.”

Read the full report on WestminsterResearch.

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