Following the recent government announcement, our venue finding team couldn’t help but finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and make us think about a time when we’ll be able to drop the zoom meetings and get back to face to face meetings and events. It’s been a tough year and like many others we’ve really missed the social interaction, seeing people’s faces and the buzz of our industry. Whilst the four-stage road map is in place to ease restrictions across England, paving a path back to a more normal way of life, we all know that anything can happen between now and then. So, we decided to ask our clients, suppliers and industry friends their thoughts on the reality of when we’ll be seeing face to face meetings and events in our diaries again.
9% of our respondents were the most optimistic and predicted that we will start seeing face to face meetings enter our diaries from April onwards. Whilst this may seem ambitious to some, we asked Katie Niland, Sales Director at The Belfry her thoughts on the future of our industry.
“The need for face to face meetings never went away, and in fact one of the consequences of COVID meant there was a rise in demand for safe face to face meetings. Many businesses had to cut their overheads dramatically including rental of their office space which meant they needed a safe and professional environment to meet with their colleagues and clients. Once the first lockdown was lifted, our demand for the small meetings market rose significantly, businesses needed to do business – not everyone has the luxury of a home environment conducive for this purpose. In our experience, as soon as restrictions were lifted and are next due to be lifted, the demand was, and is, there.”
Despite us thinking that the general feeling may be the summer months, due to the most recent government announcement which plans on all social distancing measures to be dropped by the end of June, only 13% of our respondents believed this to be the case. We asked Daniel Aguero-Dupla, Director of Global Sales at ALHI (Associated Luxury Hotels International), why he thinks the summer months are the start of us returning to normal.
“As we return to our offices in the late summer months it will look and feel different at first. Some may choose to meet outside or in a café but we do see office visits going ahead however limited on the amount of people allowed to visit at once. While cases are dropping dramatically and the vaccine is doing its job in these coming months, we should all have the confidence that safe face-to-face meetings can and will be happening again.”
However, the majority of our respondents, with a 58% majority predicted that face to face meetings and events will start to appear in our diaries again from September onwards.
Mags Shaw, from Mags Worldwide, contributed “For me personally I am hopeful we will see a return to meetings in offices by October onwards. With furlough not ending until September 2021, many agencies and event corporates will still have a number of staff on the scheme, as well as employees reluctant to return to the office. I don’t think we will see the industry completely returning to a new normal until 2022 when people’s confidence starts returning and the majority of people are fully vaccinated.”
20% of our respondents agreed with Mags, predicting that we will have to wait a lot longer and won’t see the return of meetings and events until 2022. Whilst this may seem far away, there is still a lot to be done between now and then, most of all vaccinating the remaining 20,000,000 adults in the UK..
It’s clear that there is still very much a mixed feeling around the return of meetings and events, but what we need to remember is the end is in sight and the fact we are talking about the return is really exciting.