Apr 08, 2020 (IAM Newswire via COMTEX) -- Collectively, we are navigating this public health crisis one day at a time. To flatten the curve, businesses are shutting down for the foreseeable future. And if there is one industry that is disrupted, it is the event industry. The Olympic Games got postponed for a whole year and for the very first time. In the past, they were only canceled and three times due to ongoing wars. And now, waking up to cancellations has become the new normal thanks to COVID-19. This new everything-but-ordinary scenario is asking the event industry to find ways both to survive the losses caused by this storm but also think of new ways to protect the health and safety of its staff, sponsors and event attendees.
Canceled events have affected all industries
According to estimates that the data intelligence company PredictHQ pulled for Recode, the direct economic loss from the cancellation of more than 10 major tech conferences has surpassed $1.1 billion. And considering this was reported back in March, rest assured that the figure is much greater than that. What's even worse is that it doesn't even include the amount of money that organizers would have made from hosting the events. It is merely a sum of losses caused to airlines, hotels, restaurants, and service providers that would make money from the attendees.
The biggest tech loss was incurred by GSMA's Mobile World Congress that amounted to $480 million, as it was supposed to host more than 100,000 attendees in Barcelona in February. It is followed by South by Southwest (SXSW) which is about the convergence of tech, movie and music industries in Austin. The event had 280,000 attendees last year and its cancellation resulted in at least $350 million in direct losses. Google I/O /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL +0.46% , a 5,000-person developer conference, had a direct loss estimate of nearly $20 million. On the bright side, there’s Facebook’s /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +1.52% F8, Adobe Inc's /zigman2/quotes/200389143/composite ADBE +0.81% and Apple events /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.64% which had virtual components that could still be held but the cancellation of their physical portion still incurred significant costs.
Some are trying hard not to give in to COVID-19 stampede
Roland Garros has been postponed for September unlike Wimbledon which had no choice but to cancel but then also is supposedly able to amortize the cost. French Open organizers are holding on to a thread in an effort to try avoiding losses amounting to $284 million.
As for the Olympic games, there is an additional cost of �22.5 billion (approx. $206.8 million) in terms of extra maintenance costs for venues and the Olympic Village. Another �390 billion (approx. $3.6 billion) will be needed to keep organizations in place for a whole year. And post-Olympics effects will take a hit of �218 billion (approx. $2 billion) as a result of the delay. The U.S. television network NBC owned by Comcast Corporation /zigman2/quotes/209472081/composite CMCSA -0.54% paid the IOC $4.38 billion for the rights to the games through 2020 so hopefully it doesn't interfere with their 2021 summer programme as matters become stickier with broadcasting as insurance is sometimes more useful when it comes to cancelations.
Arts – film industry disappoints fans but theatre fans rejoice in free performances
The new James Bond film, Daniel Craig's last, has been postponed for November, costing MGM Studios $30 million. Even Tom Cruise' eagerly awaited Maverick has also been postponed as it needs packed theaters to return its investment of over $150 million that it took to make the movie that has been awaited by fans for 34 years. Whether you are a sports fan or a movie fan, you're likely hating COVID-19 even more. But good news for theatre and museum fans are that many institutions around the globe have opened their virtual doors and are giving virtual tours and are streaming performances- for free! So, here's to some sort of silver lining.
Nothing will ever be the same
The brave ones who will be planning large events in the COVID-19 aftermath will surely need to be in contact with both local and national public health authorities for a long time after all this is over. Even when authorities start allowing large gatherings, there will be no way of going around the serious precautions and more severe hygiene regulations. And they are bound to result in additional costs.
New trends and best practices to cope with this large-scale disruption
Virtual events are taking place more than ever during the last few weeks as almost half of the world's population is stuck at home. Meetings and conferences have been redesigned to become virtual events and they are doing a great job in keeping people connected. Just ask Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.04% whose Teams application now has over 44 million users!
But as this crisis comes to an end, rest assured there will be a lot of hybrid events which will feature a mix of live and virtual components. Simply put, although they take place in a physical location, the large part of the audience is attending remotely.
For example, The Event Institute in Paris has not given up its activities as it's organizing virtual open doors for its prospective students at its LeCOLE which trains future event managers across Paris' finest venues. Of course, the logistics involved in such type of events is more complex as it requires both the physical and digital infrastructure. But as long as you don't give up, you will be even pleasantly surprised with the benefits of such futuristic events as they eliminate many kinds of constraints while expanding the organisation's ROI potential. That doesn't sound bad at all!
The show must go on, but how?
We do not know how or when this crisis will end yet history shows us that we prevailed through many things and came back even stronger from each crisis. Did we learn from our mistakes is an entirely different question. Let's hope we will this time. But the good news is that the event industry, although one of the most severely hit is the one that will be needed most when things restart. Events are the most efficient way to build human connections and to build something called 'intangible value', one which for example defines how much a brand is worth. And events are invaluable due to this immense power they have to make an impact on people. So, rest assured, the event industry will be among the first to adapt its operations to the new post-COVID-19 era that awaits us. And who knows, maybe it can even help the overall economy pull itself out of a rut, although it seems pretty stuck for now. But the event industry will have an honorable role in our recovery as it is the most competent of all to bring humanity back to life after this virtual standstill.
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