Sector Spotlight: The Live Events Sector Gets Ready for a Post-Covid Comeback

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries have suffered. One of the hardest-hit sectors has been the live events sector. Due to the nature of the virus, large gatherings were one of the first things to be cancelled, and will be one of the last things to return. While uncertainty still hovers over the industry, the way ahead is becoming clearer. In this article, discover how the live events sector is preparing for its post-COVID comeback.

In the last year, the live events sector has managed to stay afloat mainly via customer loyalty, with most ticket holders willing to attend a delayed event (even if the delay was indefinite). Still, financial issues have arisen in a year without events, and those in the industry will likely have been thrilled to hear the government roadmap finally lay out some concrete dates on February 22nd.

As we near May 17th, the third date stipulated in the government roadmap, the industry is gearing up to return to action.

How will the live events sector make a comeback post-COVID?

There are three key dates that anyone running a live events business should be aware of by now:

  • May 17th - Some large events can reopen, including indoor events for 1,000 people (or at 50% capacity), outdoor events for 4,000 people (or at 50% capacity) and outdoor seated events for 10,000 (or at 25% capacity).

  • Not before June 21st - All legal limits on social contact will end, venues like nightclubs will be able to re-open, and life will largely return to normal. It’s hoped that restrictions around social distancing and mask-wearing could be removed at this point, though nothing is guaranteed.

If we're looking at vaccine roll-out, we're looking at rapid testing programmes and people complying, that's going to help our sector return.
— Peter Heath, Managing Director of PLSA

The government recently set up the Events Research Programme (ERP), which allows scientists to examine the risk of transmission through controlled live events. The hope is that, through a combination of testing and non-pharmaceutical interventions, experts will be able to better understand when restrictions can be safely lifted.

The first phase of 10-15 pilot events have been scheduled between April and May, and are currently being overseen by an industry-led group, co-chaired by Sir Nicholas Hytner and David Roos, working closely with national and local public health authorities. 

Pilot events include:

  • FA Cup Semi Final, Wembley Stadium

  • World Snooker Championship, Sheffield Crucible Theatre

  • Luna Cinema, Liverpool

  • League Cup Final

  • ACC Business Event, Liverpool

  • Circus Nightclub, Liverpool

  • FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium

  • The BRIT Awards, London

  • Outdoor gig, Sefton Park Liverpool

All events were selected based on a range of criteria including audience size, outdoor versus indoor considerations and venue layout. Safety remains a priority, and every attendee is required to present a negative Lateral Flow test and consent form to enter. They’ve also been asked to take a PCR test before and after the event they’re attending. No proof of a vaccine is needed.

Each of these pilot events matters hugely, and the programme marks the very start of the live events sector’s long-awaited, carefully-managed comeback. 

Customer demand ahead of the live events sector comeback

There’s no doubt that customers are bored of having to entertain themselves or attend things virtually. The demand for things to return to normal is strong, and 62.7% of event marketers are planning to resume in-person events in 2021 [Bizzabo]. This same high demand is reflected in the wedding sector, as couples rush to book and re-book.

The supply-demand fundamentals of the concerts business remain strong, with artists ready to get back on the road and fans eager to reconnect at events. All our data continues to show that there is substantial pent-up demand for concerts on the consumer demand side.
— Michael Rapino, LiveNation President and CEO 

Events won’t look “normal” again for a long while, and event organisers will have many new rules and regulations to follow, but for those running a live events franchise, these changes are a small price to pay for the reward of getting back up and running. And, for those looking to attend a live event, these changes are minor compared to the reward of some quality entertainment.

Live events sector trends amid the UK reopening

On April 30th, over 3,000 clubbers with negative COVID tests rushed to the dance floor in Liverpool at one of the government's pilot events. Though people attending had to meet the requirements to ensure everyone’s safety, this didn’t turn them away. In fact, many were seen hugging and dancing, elated to be back out in the live events scene again. 

This event is just one example of the strength of public desire for live events amid the UK reopening. People are ready and waiting to pour their support back into the events industry, and this should massively boost the confidence of all events franchise owners waiting to reopen their doors.

What government support is still available for businesses in the live events sector?

Despite seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, many are still facing uncertainty, and requiring government support. See the list below to find out if you’re eligible for any ongoing government support:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (open until September 2021)

  • The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

  • The Vat Deferral New Payment Scheme (open until 21st June 2021)

  • Business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year covering retail, hospitality and leisure companies in England

  • The Recovery Loan Scheme

  • The Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

  • The Coronavirus Restart Grant

  • The Coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grant

  • The Local Restrictions Support Grants

A better year lies ahead for the live events sector

Running a live events franchise during a global pandemic hasn’t been easy, but finally, things are beginning to look up for the industry. After so much time at home, the boom is coming, and if you’re looking to make an investment, now might be the perfect time. Explore franchising opportunities in the events sector

>> Read more articles on the Events sector

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