Events Industry Impact Survey
Research undertaken by Meeting Allstars on the effect of the pandemic on employment points to a resilience to stay working in the live event sector despite the catastrophic effects on face-to-face communications.
Meeting Allstars research mirrors the broader situation within the hospitality sector with recruitment stagnant, many businesses being propped up by furlough and headcount minimised to meet the limited demand levels and lack of clarity on when events can return.
The research was carried out between 15th January and 12th February 2021 and drew more than 500 responses from UK based employees of corporate brands, agencies, convention bureaus, venues and ancillary suppliers to the live event sector.
- 40% of respondents were from intermediary agencies responsible for helping brands with their face-to-face marketing activity.
- Venues accounted for 14% of the responses with other categories in the research including caterers, convention bureaus and the freelance community.
According to the research, agency and corporate employees have fared worse during the pandemic in terms of the percentage of redundancies made. With consumer confidence at an all-time low, and businesses stalled since lockdown, British businesses are struggling to regain pre-Covid business levels leading to:
- up to 1/3 of headcounts being made redundant in the brand and intermediary space.
The large number of redundancies in these business types reflects the enormity of the pandemic on face-to-face events which have migrated online, and the entire corporate event market has shuddered to a halt with no respite for 12-months. Equally lack of government support for the events sector may well be a factor in agencies making redundancies and relying on furlough.
The responses from caterers show that headcounts have been reduced to 50% of their norm with only central services functions working.
Within venues – group and independent hotels, unique venues and exhibition centres – the tactic of reducing headcount and thereby fixed costs is not as prevalent and 46% of employees are working regular hours. Since venues fall under the wider hospitality sector SIC, they are party to a greater voice in government and therefore benefit from VAT and breaks in business rates unlike agencies whose Companies House registrations disparately flare from business services to advertising and management consultancy.
Across the board 23% of employees are furloughed either in a part-time or full-time capacity. Furlough has been used most prolifically in the venue sector perhaps due to the realisation that MICE specialists can be re-skilled on property and the need for venues to be able to move bookings around in line with the changing rules on lockdown. It is clear that the continuation of the furlough scheme is helping to protect and preserve a portion of jobs in the marketplace and only time will tell on the potentially harsh reality of employment in the MICE sector.
Within the agency field, 75% of the respondents have been employed for more than 7 years, however, as to be expected there is a greater propensity to make those with 1-3 years’ service redundant.
Those currently working and those awaiting to come back off furlough are anticipating major changes in their roles in the coming months.
Agency employees in particular foresee significant changes to their roles and responsibilities when they are fully back. Respondents anticipate that their current positions will be merged meaning they will be given additional responsibilities. Those employed in the venues sector also anticipate changes with re-skilling on the cards.
29% of respondents are looking for new roles due to redundancy. Of these people, 40% are looking for roles outside the events industry and outside the wider hospitality business underlining a migration of talent.
This exit from the event sector could increase the recovery period of the live event sector through the reduction of the sector specialism.
Surprisingly, despite the bleak outlook and the glut of quality talent looking for new roles, just 11% of those on furlough have taken it upon themselves to up-skill or look at additional training while on furlough.
Respondents to the survey anticipate early autumn 2021 as the most likely time for their teams to fully return. Confidence in an early summer return to trading was low, a sentiment that is echoed in employers in Europe, who according to Manpower, are the least optimistic about a return to pre-pandemic hiring levels with most predicting this will be later than October 2021.
When asked about their optimism towards the sector, 69% said they were not confident in the events industry. Of the agents that responded, 54% were not optimistic about the future of the events industry. Despite the poor outlook, there survey revealed a resilience to remain in the events industry and people are seeking new hiring options.
Whilst the pandemic has hit SME’s most, one key learning has been the realisation that many employees can work from anywhere, any time. Even with the vaccine rollout it’s unlikely we will go back to the office full time and future proofing the team means a hybrid model for the workplace: businesses no longer want to risk hiring full-time employees to meet work that may prove transient. Freelance and flexible work force is a trend that will grow throughout 2021 and beyond.
Using flexible hires will help businesses acquire an agile, on-demand workforce which can help with their wider business goals without affecting their cash flow.
These results, coupled with the desire and resilience of MICE professionals to stay within the events industry, is one of the reasons Meeting Allstars was established; to safeguard the skills, creativity and relationships held by those displaced from our industry due to the current climate.
“The premise behind Meeting Allstars is to create a community of event planners, united by the common goal of delivering a personalised and dedicated service to clients requiring global venue sourcing,” says Chris Parnham, Owner and co-founder of Meeting Allstars and Owner of Absolute Corporate Events and Absolute Digital Communications.
“Live events will return, and clients will soon need to start sourcing venues, but they will likely find that many of their long-standing relationships will have been affected by furlough or redundancies. As part of Meeting Allstars, anyone who has experience of global venue sourcing and has client relationships that need attention can join the company, whilst retaining ownership for their clients, their delivery and their future career path.
“I am so excited to build this new community and audience, focused on making the best from the recovery of our industry. It is so important to us that each of our entrepreneurs will have ownership of their own destiny but will be comfortable in the security of a strong and credible company.”