On Wednesday 20th May, Hire Space hosted the first in a three part series of virtual events titled 'Business And Events In A Post-Pandemic World - Part 1', hosted in partnership with Swapcard and London Filmed.
The final session of the morning was titled 'Frequent Flyer Phase-Out? COVID-19’s Long Term Effects On Business & Events Travel'. Aurélie Krau, Consultant, Festive Road and Stephen Harris, CEO, ClearView Financial Media discussed whether perspectives on travel will change, and for how long. Samme Allen, Professional MC, Facilitator & Moderator, moderated the panel.
You can watch the video below, or read on for our key takeaways of the session.
Table of Contents
Attitudes across the world
Stephen has noticed varying travel trends across continents. He notes that in America, there are a lot of companies not wanting to engage in attending events. There are company-wide travel bans in place and companies pulling out of events for the foreseeable future. He adds that Americans are particularly worried about air travel, particularly around how far the virus can travel around the ventilation system and the air quality in the aircraft. With that in mind, he believes Americans will not be willing to travel and will strongly prefer to stay at home, so any events that take place in America will mainly be attended by locals, as opposed to professionals from the rest of the US.
He observes a similar pattern across Europe, although people do seem more accepting of having to travel for events. Interestingly, in Asia, he has observed that events in the last quarter are doing well in terms of sign-ups, and he hasn't experienced any pushback from attendees wary of traveling.
What does the future hold for business travel?
Business class travel will likely do just fine, Stephen predicts. However, as most business travel takes place in economy, this will certainly be the area that will struggle. Individuals won't want to travel in cramped economy seating, so this will also have a knock-on effect on events that offer leisure/social add-ons. People will simply not be willing to travel unless an event has a very specific outcome. Samme adds here that it seems to be a pattern that countries who have come through the worst of the virus are more confident in returning to events.
Aurelie notes that she has been focused on helping clients with business travel and have spoken to lots of different sectors. She has found that no matter what generation is traveling, right now the focus is on duty of care and safety. She explains a model that Festive Road have developed: the likelihood of individuals traveling for events depends on the equation of A) company confidence (how an organisation feels sending their employees to events), B) travel confidence (what is employee-agreeable) and C) government permission (the status of borders, self quarantine rules in place etc).
Confidence for the future - design, reinvent and engage
Fast forward 12 months, Stephen is very positive about the state of play. He believes this is a major bump, and it will result in us doing things differently, but ultimately he believes that business travel, conferences and events in general will once again thrive going forward.
Aurelie seconds Stephen's point - she believes we need to design new experiences, and that this is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and engage more with our attendees.
What balances are your company putting in place to ensure your attendees feel comfortable and willing to pay for tickets?
Stephen informs us that ClearView have moved to a strategy focusing on less people in attendance. He notes they are placing them as 'premium' events, rather than mass events, so consequently fewer people will be there. He adds they are working closely with the event providers to ensure they follow correct standards of cleanliness and the associated protocols, so the event can run safely and smoothly. He also notes that it's important to be thinking about liability - where does the responsibility sit in terms of problems coming out of the event.
Do you think traveling to international events could be replaced with multi-hub events?
Aurelie suggests that multi-hub events could be a great alternative and solution to concerns attendees may have regarding traveling long distances for an event. She suggests researching the travel bubbles, choose where you could gather your attendees locally and then organise the multi-hub event from there.
Stephen counter-argues that costs may then go up, and the business model would then need to be adjusted. He also believes that as people are reticent to travel currently, 'bleisure' or business-leisure trips will be reduced as individuals will travel for the event and want to return back home as soon as possible.
Is there anything we can do collectively, as an industry to regain trust and confidence that the UK is a safe place for doing business?
Aurelie suggests that the wellbeing aspect is critical - check in with clients/customers and make sure their mental health is well looked after and you are providing them with the reassurance to once again visit the UK for events.
Stephen states that he believes Hire Space are doing a great job in pulling together protocols, offering creative ways to run events and informing the industry how social distancing and other measures can be implemented into venues. He notes that perhaps we can gather around Hire Space and allow an industry-lobbying body to lead the way. You can find out more about Hire Space Safer Events Programme here.
Stephen Harris, CEO, ClearView Financial Media
Stephen Harris has run independent media business for 25 years having trained both in accountancy and journalism. He is currently the CEO of ClearView Financial Media, overseeing all international publishing, event, awards and research activities.
Aurélie Krau, Consultant, Festive Road
Aurélie is well known for her #DigitalNomad lifestyle and for driving change in the Business Travel ecosystem. She has a passion for technology and how companies can blend the physical and digital together to drive the right result.
Samme Allen, Professional MC, Facilitator & Moderator
With global experience of working with corporate clients such as pharmaceutical companies, to medical associations, societies and trade shows, Samme works on a diverse range of events around the world with the ability to tackle sensitive topics, manage energetic debates and address cross cultural issues all within pressurised and time sensitive environments. Samme is an active contributor on national television & media around women’s health and with natural high energy, positivity and a reputation for getting the best out of people, she is a natural choice for events including sales conferences, annual conventions, strategy sessions and corporate away days.
Safer Events Resources
We know navigating this 'new normal' is unknown territory for all, so we've compiled some resources and guidance to help you organise safer events as we start to plan in-person events again.
We've released a whitepaper on Safer Events, our industry accreditation scheme for venues & events organisers. You can read about the measures to make an event safe, see the research behind it & find out how to certify your event or venue.
- Understand Delegate Confidence (Infographic)
As part of our new safer events programme, we conducted a survey of delegates to understand an individuals confidence in attending events that adhere to our safer events framework. Here are all the results.
Give your clients the confidence to hold events at your venue with our independent safety accreditation.
Give delegates the peace of mind to attend your in-person events through our independent safety accreditation.
Everything you need to run safer events from face masks to floor markings. Save £5 off your first order with this link.
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If you're interested in holding a virtual event of your own, why not book a free consultation with our Virtual Event Experts below? We can help make your vision into a reality.