Business tourism is one of the most propulsive segments of tourism, and including the event industry, 2020 was supposed to be a record year in terms of the number of events held and participants in business gatherings. But the sudden outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the ‘lockdown’ in March 2020 caused most events to be canceled or postponed and jeopardized the survival of the entire industry.
The portal found out how much the pandemic affected business tourism and what the situation is in the industry BusinessTourism who conducted research on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the decline of the Croatian congress and event industry, changes in the organization of business events and future trends such as hybrid events.
For most, the drop in revenue is more than 90%
Half of the respondents during 2020 recorded 90% less revenue compared to the year before. 40% of them had a drop in income of 70-90%, while only 2% of respondents did not achieve a drop in income. These indicators are accompanied by financial amounts, so 40% of respondents confirmed that it was due to the outbreak of the crisis lost planned revenues of more than HRK 5 million due to failure to maintain already confirmed events. Since 95% of respondents used state aid to preserve jobs, almost 80% did not lay off employees, while a small number of companies have laid off more than half of their teams.
The biggest changes brought about by the pandemic relate to the formats of event organization. Namely, 56% of respondents started organizing virtual and hybrid events, and 16% of them have fully digitized their business. 38% of respondents discovered new services and markets, while 30% did not change anything significantly in their approach to their business and are waiting to return "to the old".
Transition to virtual and hybrid events
Most respondents, 60%, offered to organize or host virtual and / or hybrid events, with the most used online meeting platform being Zoom, followed by Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex, and to a lesser extent specialized online event solutions. Additional technological solutions in the realization of virtual and hybrid events were most common live broadcast via the Internet / live streaming (56%), virtual studio (40%) and video recording on demand (38%).
Only 32% of respondents believe that online events can be a sufficient substitute for live events and as such justify the expectations of organizers and participants. Also, only 15% of respondents find them cost-effective for organizers, compared to live events. Almost 90% of respondents are of the opinion that online events can be monetized up to half the amount of revenue from participants and sponsors compared to live events.
"Virtual and hybrid events will certainly remain an integral part of the congress industry and it will be interesting to follow how billing models for such events will be further developed, as well as the integration of the live participation experience with the virtual one.She said Daniela Kos, editor of the portal PoslovniTurizam.
As the biggest shortcomings in the organization of online events insufficient interaction and networking of participants via the Internet (75%), various technical difficulties (29%), poor internet connection (22%), inexperience in using web services and insufficiently interesting content and speakers are mentioned. Notwithstanding the above, half of the respondents believe that virtual and hybrid events will remain relevant after the end of the pandemic, while 35% do not believe in it, ie 13% are undecided.
The beginning of the recovery of the congress and event industry is expected in the spring and summer of 2022.
Regarding the expectations related to the recovery of the congress and event industry from the still current crisis, 56% of respondents claim that live events will be organized to a greater extent only in the spring and summer of 2022.
The basic preconditions are the satisfaction of all safety and health measures with sufficient vaccination of the population, the opening of international air transport and the return of confidence in travel. The pace of recovery will largely depend on economic trends and the recovery of business entities organizing events that have themselves been affected by the corona crisis.
"After the initial shock last spring, a significant portion of the convention industry quickly adapted to the new conditions, and the pandemic accelerated the digitization of the entire sector. Events that support virtual formats, such as educational events or conferences, have been successfully held in this way, while products such as incentives or teambuilding based solely on experience are waiting for better times. Smaller live events are still held in accordance with all prescribed measures, but for larger international gatherings, the re-establishment of international air traffic will be crucial.", Concluded Kos.
The convention industry will recover gradually and slowly, starting with smaller groups of attendees, and there is already a noticeable interest in leasing entire smaller hotels to ensure the groups exclusivity of the event and the safety of guests.
In the near future, we will continue to face measures such as maintaining social distance, using protective masks and disinfectants, ventilating the space, limiting the number of people in one location, more outdoor events and generally smaller live events combined with digital technologies and virtual participation of larger number of people and lecturers (hybrid format).
(The research was conducted in the period from March 01.03 to March 25.03.2021, 110 by the method of online survey, and included XNUMX respondents throughout Croatia - event organizers, congress hotels and congress centers, specialized agencies, tourist boards and congress offices, technology companies and other service providers)
Photo: Isaac Taylor, Cottobro / Pexels.com