It’s been well over a year since corporate events were halted by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced everyone to stay at home for the safety of our most vulnerable members of society, but with restrictions now slowly being lifted there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for the events industry at last! As of May 17th, indoor venues are allowed to open with the rule of 6 and social distancing measures being deployed to ensure that we’re still controlling the spread of the virus across the country as we look to move past the Coronavirus pandemic and return the country back to a state of normality. This will have an impact in both social settings and business settings, with corporate events now much easier to operate with the easing of restrictions, so you can expect to see many more engaging conferences and meetings in the near future, which will be a huge boost to the economy and local business communities. If you’ve been wondering how your business may be impacted by events returning, or when you might be able to start hosting conferences in the coming months, be sure to check out our guide below!
If you are curious to learn more about the locations that we operate in, you can find out more right here on our events location page, or by getting in touch with our team.
Why were the events halted in the first place?
Events were halted in 2020 as part of the robust measures that were taken to prevent the damaging spread of the virus that has caused so much devastation over the course of the past 12 months. The Coronavirus is spread through contact, so keeping people apart from one another is one of the most important factors to consider – this is the factor that lead to measures such as social distancing and the halting of all in-person events, where guests or a full audience would often mingle and come into very close contact. At the height of the pandemic, hundreds of people were sadly falling ill with the virus each day, but thanks to the measures that were introduced it’s estimated that many more lives have been spared as a result. To accommodate for these restrictions, many businesses have turned to online platforms to remain active and involved, using activities such as a virtual event, video conferences, and interactive media to connect with their audience whilst working remotely. Whilst this method has maintained some level of connection between many, it still isn’t quite as effective as many would like – there are many problems that can hinder virtual meetings that simply aren’t as big of an issue at physical events. For some businesses, the use of a virtual audience has been a major pain point – without being able to gauge reactions and the mood of the event, it’s very difficult to ensure that the conference experience is at the optimum level, which can leave people feeling dissatisfied with the business meeting afterwards. Of course, this is not an ideal situation and could even lead to the event planner losing credibility within the business conference industry.
When will events return?
Thankfully, it looks like the main dangers of the pandemic have passed by, giving the entire events industry much more freedom when it comes to planning any future event for the coming months. From May 17th, indoor venues will slowly begin to open up to guests with restrictions still in place, but this marks a huge step from the situation we have seen in the past 6 months, where we have not been able to meet with others in any situation and all businesses and venues have been forced to remain closed for the entirety of that. Before May 17th, only outdoor spaces were allowed to welcome visitors, with those visitors being forced to abide by the rule of six/two household guidelines that were implemented to restrict the spread of Covid 19. These rules will now be implemented indoors with outdoor venues seeing the restrictions lifted even further to allow for up to 30 people to be able to meet in a group, which is a massive bonus for any corporate venue with a large outdoor space where events can be hosted as we approach the warmer summer months. Beyond the restrictions put in place in May 2021, the plan is to remove all limits on social contact by June 21st, provided the evidence and statistics show that this is safe to do.
Trials have recently been conducted in the Liverpool region to monitor how events with proper testing implemented would work, with thousands of attendees from the region being able to attend a two-day music festival at Sefton Park with acts such as Blossoms, The Lathums, and Zuzu all performing for the first time in over a year. So far, it looks that the system used for these events, where each attendee needed to test negative before entering the concert venue, where no masks, distancing, or restrictions were required whilst part of the 5,000 person audience that was present. With successful trials for large events such as this now being conducted, it shows lots of promise for the future events that businesses will be able to host very soon, with rapid lateral flow testing allowing us to control the spread of the virus whilst we structure effective and engaging events that work for both the guest and the host.
The restrictions that we’ll be faced with
As of May 17th, these are the restrictions that we’re expecting events such as conferences and large meetings to face:
- Social distancing: As you can probably imagine, one of the major problems that the events industry will face as we bring back our venues is the implementation of social distancing, particularly for indoor locations. As things stand, indoor venues will be forced to abide by a rule of six system, which will dramatically reduce the level of interaction that we’ll be able to offer to guests as part of conferences and business events. If the weather is to hold out and remain warm, we may see that outdoor venues are very popular over the coming months, as these allow for much larger groups to be able to socialise with less restriction, which is always beneficial for networking events and team building days. For larger venues, there may be slightly more room to play with, both literally and figuratively, with these spaces being allowed to operate with up to 1000 guests or 50% of their capacity (whichever is lower) indoors, whereas outdoor events can invite up to 4000 guests or 50% of their maximum capacity (again, whichever is lower), which is substantially larger than anything we’ve seen for the past year. Major seated outdoor venues such as stadiums will be given even more capacity to fill, with up to 10,000 visitors being allowed into the venue, should it be safe to do so. For events that serve food and drinks, this will need to be done via table service, rather than allowing guests to crowd at bars or at catering stalls.
- Travel restrictions: Another factor that we anticipate may cause some disruption or difficulty when it comes to events is the travel restrictions that are still being implemented, with most areas of the UK still remaining under guidance to limit travel and stay at home where necessary for the majority of the time. For conference guests, the commute can often be a long one, with visitors coming from across the country, or even from other countries to attend the best events and meetings from the top names in the industry. In these cases, we’re likely to see hybrid conferences become a necessity as we move forward in the events industry.
- Capacity limits: As we’ve already mentioned, there will also be capacity limits being enforced on many venues, limiting the number of people that will be allowed to enter the space. For indoor venues, the maximum limit will be 1000 people, for outdoor spaces, the maximum capacity is 4000, and the maximum capacity will be 10,000 for outdoor seated venues, but it’s unlikely that many conferences will be held in a venue of this size. For most business conferences and meetings, we don’t see this upper limit being too much of a roadblock, but for incredibly popular events we may see that tickets are sold out very quickly and that there may need to be repeat occasions due to high levels of demand.
Hybrid conferences are the future
With restrictions still being in place, it’s obvious that video conferencing will need to stay in place for a little while longer, but we’re actually expecting the presence of hybrid conferences to become a permanent fixture of most events post-Covid. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen how important video calls and conferences are, enabling people to have far more freedom around the events that they attend – there’s no travelling or queuing to face, which makes these conferences far more accessible to the masses. With the future of conferencing seemingly very hybrid focused, this will mean that it’s going to be crucial that you’re selecting venues that are capable of handling both the physical footfall of visitors as well as the online traffic that a popular online meeting can often attract. This need for a hybrid setup will likely lead to a more rigorous venue-finding process, as there are far more considerations to make before you select the correct venue. Every business will have its own requirements when it comes to its corporate events, so it’s important to first understand your own needs before you start the search for your ideal venue – this could be anything from capacity, technical setup, catering services, accommodation, or even accessibility features such as ramps!
Finding the perfect venue
When it comes to finding a venue, there are lots to consider and that can often make the process far more difficult than it needs to be, especially when you’re searching alone. Here at Absolute Venues, we’re partnered with a wide range of top venues that can cater to a variety of different functions, from hybrid conferences and business meetings to corporate away days, product launches, and even gala dinners! No matter what kind of event you’re looking to plan, our expert venues team will be able to offer guidance and support throughout the entire journey, ensuring that your company has the perfect location for every event, big or small. You can get in touch with us online or by phone today, where one of our representatives will be able to chat with you regarding the different options, or alternatively out venue finder tool will help you to dive straight into the search for the perfect venue!