The majority (82%) of event planners believe that vaccines are the most important factor in bringing back face-to-face events, according to the latest research from Global DMC Partners.
The results of the Q3 Meeting & Events Survey, which polled 447 respondents from the global meetings and events industry, come off the back of positive news regarding several vaccine trials, which could boost confidence in booking face-to-face events.
According to the survey, more than 90% reported that some or all of their 2020 events have been postponed to 2021, and nearly three-quarters of event planners are moving their face-to-face events to virtual or hybrid in 2021.
While most respondents predict that their face-to-face events will resume in the first half of 2021, many are planning to include a virtual option with their live event, indicating that 2021 will be a hybrid year.
While incentive trips remain largely irreplaceable and many are still just postponed, in Q3 more respondents reported offering additional alternatives to their incentive trip, such as a virtual incentive event or gifts. Sixty-four percent of participants report that 2021 incentive trips are still planned to take place.
For the majority of respondents, budgets for meetings, conferences and events are either decreasing or remaining the same for 2021. Thirty-eight percent of planners are reporting a decrease in their budgets from 2020-2021, and 32% are reporting no change.
When it comes to incentives budgets, 36% report no change, while 32% say they will have decreasing budgets for 2021.
The majority of survey participants indicated that general fear and uncertainty is the biggest current concern (32%), followed closely by travel and government restrictions (25%). Job security and health and well-being of planners and their family/friends also ranks high on the list.
Other than COVID-19, the second biggest industry concern at the moment appears to be financial and budget constraints, as noted by almost half of the respondents (45%).
Corporate travel restrictions
Regardless of geographic location, most companies are not currently allowing employees to freely travel for business. Forty-seven percent of US companies and 40% of non-US companies are not allowing travel.
Some (16-18%) are allowing C-level executives and other select personnel to travel. On a positive note, 55 percent of respondents believe that their companies will allow employee travel in Q1 or Q2 of 2021.
The majority of survey participants (63%) said they predict that their companies and/or clients will host live, in-person events, meetings and incentives in the first half of 2021, providing of course that markets are open, flights are available and health protocols are in place.