What started in December 2019 as a confined epidemic in China escalated to a full-blown pandemic as declared by the WHO on March 11, 2020 has now infected over 50 million people in almost every country, resulting in well over a million deaths.
COVID-19 decimated many industries, none more so than face-to-face business events – business conferences, trade shows, etc. – that have disappeared. Many governments banned meetings and events, and where they were still allowed, strict guidelines and public reluctance constituted major setbacks for the industry.
In the wake of the pandemic, the events industry has been forced to adopt a virtual model almost overnight, affecting venues, planners and suppliers of physical events alike. Many business events have moved to online platforms due to the reluctance to attend physical events. Event businesses large and small have had to lay off portions of their workforces following the catastrophic drop in the demand.
Despite the gradual relaxing of lockdown, many countries still enforce strict restrictions such as limiting the number of attendees, social distancing measures and discouraging indoor events. Some countries allow physical events on the condition that COVID-19 protocols are strictly observed.
So what does the future hold for the events industry? When can we expect to see some normalisation? How can risks associated with physical events be mitigated?
The numbers don’t look encouraging. COVID-19 cases increased globally by 8% in the past week resulting in over 3.6 million new cases. In response to the new surge in the number of cases, many countries, including the UK, announced a second lockdown to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
On the other hand, there is promising news too. Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced a new vaccine candidate which was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19. With infection rates decreasing in some countries and confidence beginning to re-emerge, the world of events is regaining hope in this unfamiliar and uncertain COVID-19 era.
But hope alone is not enough. We need something more than wishful thinking. If the events industry is to survive and navigate successfully out of this unprecedented crisis, we have to make sure that we are ready for the reopening of event venues. READINESS is the KEY. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing the things that will create the difference once the events world is given a green light.
Uncertainty is the defining character of this pandemic. In fact, the only thing we can predict is that life after COVID-19 will not be the same as it was before. The event businesses will need to invest their time and resources into exploring new approaches and new ways of operating. It is better to be creative, try something new – doing nothing will take a huge financial toll.
Even more important than embracing change and evolving at an operational level is RESTORING CONFIDENCE in delegates, customers and sponsors regarding the safety of our events. As with all battles, this battle can first be won at the psychological level.
Our company is committed to uphold the highest standards, our belief is that independent certification is the only way to bring back that confidence to the events world.
It’s paramount to send a loud and clear message to our stakeholders that ensuring the health and well-being of attendees, staff and others is our utmost priority; that we have been diligent in planning and executing safe events. Independent Certification to the highest standards of risk management hygiene and virus control sends this message.
Safe2Attend™ Certification proves that best practices and applicable laws in hygiene and virus control have been considered, documented, implemented and are being followed so that third party companies and attendees to events have confidence that well-being of individuals is being properly managed.
We will address these new paradigms through the compliance of robust risk assessments and audits. Only those operating to the highest standards will be worthy to carry the Safe2Attend™ brand.