COVID-19 and the events industry
Covid-19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on industries all over the world. Many businesses are struggling to exist while many are already out of business. Unemployment rate has soared in record numbers with some having to deal with massive pay cuts, yet there is no clear indication of when things might be normal.
Small businesses are believed to be picking up in six to nine months. However, it may not return to normality for at least 12 months. According to a survey done by davis tanner, 50% of respondents believe that their businesses will return to normality whereas 38% believe their business would not be the same. An industry particularly affected by the Covid crisis is the event industry
Event inquiry and booking are expected to recover in September as 38% of event planners and venue teams believe it would be suitable to re-open diaries and make firm enquiries. 12% believe July would be the beginning of recovery period, 10% believe August will be that month while 13% believe it to happen in October, 39% have taken or made bookings in the last month. However, 61% of the respondents had their bookings completely stopped.
As things remain uncertain, flexibility and cooperation will be required until the world recovers from the pandemic. The pandemic has resulted in a rise in work from home culture and information technology. With these changes, the industry requires stronger regulations in terms of tendering, reduced loan, supplier relationship, copyright infringement with the support of the Government. Now let’s consider the real time effects of the pandemic on the event industry as it stands.
Financial – A massive impact in the ability to operate and scale the business to any normal degree with the implementation of lock down and social distancing seeing some businesses losing upwards of 90% of the annual trade.
- Local government help has been woeful at best, e.g help with business rates that were ‘advertised’ have been nonexistent with already critical companies having to argue to get help and still have claims for aid being dismissed.
- Whilst furlough has worked for some companies, for directly employed staff the timing could have been better and there should have been a system that was ‘ready to go’, as an SIA ACS companies we are expected to have robust BCP and DR policies and plans that are implemented on impact, disappointing that this was not the case from the government for this incident.
- Self-employed security personnel who cannot work have to wait until June to get any form of real assistance.
Staffing – Event staff, little or no summer work in a security market that’s already flooded, have a long term effect on their relationship with their event company, what will the market look like when lockdown is lifted.
- Will staff be able to travel to different parts of the country as they do now to supervise/work and companies supplying large numbers to strategic partners for large scale events?
- Will all staff need to provide a ‘certificate’ to say they have tested negative for COVID -19, how often will these tests need to be taken?
- From the above, if staff are tested positive and have to self-isolate this will include all staff that attended the given event – are all staff then eligible for furlough payment self-employed or PAYE and at what rate?
Cost – Increases in cost due to the recovery of the pandemic are likely but how will Event Organisers see this.
- Are companies liable for the PPE at events even though staff are self-employed, how will this affect their employment status?
- Are Event Organizers willing to accept the increase in service cost for PPE or are companies expected to absorb as part of operating cost.
- Increases to company insurances given the insurance industry has to date refused to work with the events industry to compensate for cancelled events due to the pandemic being deemed a ‘new disease’.
- Administration, legislative checks for SIA already form a high proportion of admiration cost, will there now be additional legislation either SIA linked or not that needs to be included meaning an increase in administration personnel/cost.
Recovery and Government Information – There is still no clear indication on recovery time and information on when the ‘new normal’ will be announced with easing of social distancing and lock down.
- Recovery rate will be slow due to the size of authorized gatherings which will see a small shift in the return to the ‘new normal’.
- The easing of lock down will determine the recovery rate of the industry but should also be commensurate with the risk involved, medical advice should be current and allow for real time decision making on events.
- Companies need to look to future contracts where high numbers of staff are required for events and ensure there is financial capacity to meet their payment obligations, this may mean working with event organisers and ensure part fees are paid up front
- Information flow between Government and local authorities for the event industry need immediate review
Looking to the future, without question there needs to be a full review of why the event industry was so poorly ready for the COVID-19 pandemic. The review should be formed from Central Government (ministers, policing, legislative bodies), local authority representation, industry accrediting bodies on planning and senior event organisations who would give much needed input on operational experience and industry needs for such an incident given that Science says the incident is still ongoing and there is potential for another future incident, companies need to fully review the robustness of their BCP and DR inclusive of contract clauses and insurances ensuing that event companies, organisers and suppliers are fully aware of their commitments and obligations should such an incident occur again.
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