Planners move live events to virtual or hybrid in 2021

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Global DMC Partners Q3 Study; photo credit: Global DMC Partners

Nearly three-quarters of planners are moving their face-to-face events to virtual or hybrid in 2021. This is a key result of Global DMC Partners Q3 Meetings & Events Survey with 447 respondents from around the globe. 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.

Compared to responses from the Q2 survey, the tendency towards virtual and hybrid events in 2020 has significantly increased from 69 percent to 86 percent. Looking ahead to 2021, the majority of planners (72 percent) are moving their events to a virtual or hybrid format.

Over 90 percent of the planners reported that some or all of their 2020 events have been postponed to 2021. 82 percent believe a vaccine is the most important factor in bringing back face-to-face events.

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 percent are reporting no change.
When it comes to incentives budgets, 36 percent report no change, while 32 percent say they will have decreasing budgets for 2021.

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 percent). Safety and security concerns is a close second, at 39 percent.

When asked what will be the number one challenge planners expect to face with meetings, events and incentives once travel begins more widely, the top three responses were implementing  new health & sanitation protocols, determining contract terms and lower budgets. This is a change from Q2 responses when fear was predicted as the top challenge.

The majority of survey participants (63 percent) 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.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents do think events will be downsized in the future, with the largest events topping out at 250 attendees. A majority (63 percent) also believe that average event attendee numbers will decrease in 2021, citing issues such as adhering to physical distancing requirements and the level of comfort with traveling and attending events in general.

Full results of the Q3 Meetings & Events Pulse Survey can be found here (PDF, 23 pages).

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