Business owner Ismail Sirdah explains the impact of COVID-19 on event promotion
The world of live events and event promotion has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus. With future venues booked and costs already sunk sometimes years in advance of events, the economic cost to event promoters is likely to be in the tens of billions of dollars and could cause widespread and lasting damage to the industry.
Lockdown measures have generally been successful at flattening the curve and bringing down the number of new cases, but it remains to be seen how well the virus will be contained once restrictions are loosened and various social events start up again. Some live events companies, including the infamous Cirque du Soleil, have already canceled all of their shows for the entire year, while others are taking a wait-and-see approach.
In the meantime, there is little that event promoters can now do but weather the storm says Ismail Sirdah, the founder and owner of LuLu Promotions and a brand marketing and promotional expert. For many companies, that will require keeping their staff trimmed, cutting costs wherever possible, and finding creative ways to raise money if necessary.
With so much uncertainty in the event promotion space right now, including a possible timeline for holding live events again that is completely up in the air, Ismail Sirdah claims that many people in the industry are currently trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation.
A Shifting Professional Landscape
A survey conducted by PCMA Convene found that over 60% of professionals in the event promotion space are considering or have already started to re-skill. For many, the focus is on developing their digital skills and learning how to conduct virtual meetings so they’ll be even better event planners in the future. Others are working on broader skills like accounting, marketing, and crisis management that could serve them both within the industry, or outside of it should it come to that.
As a business professional, Ismail Sirdah expects the pandemic to lead to further consolidation in the event promotion space, as struggling promoters become all but forced to team up with more stable ones, bringing their roster of clients with them.
Given the added costs that will be involved in running an event due to the need for greatly expanded safety initiatives, margins were already going to be thinner. Couple that with the reality that events won’t be able to handle the same volumes of attendance that they were in the past, and the situation looks rather untenable.
The Future of Events Promotions
It’s not even clear at this point what kind of appetite there will be for travel or events once restrictions have been more widely lifted. Some within the industry are confident that there will be some pent-up demand for travel and meaningful face-to-face human interaction once the pandemic has lost most of its teeth, which could see the industry begin to roar back to life within six months.
Others believe it could take 12-18 months or until the widespread availability of a vaccine before event promotion returns to being the exciting, vibrant industry it was before the outbreak.
Whatever the case may be, there’s little doubt that eventually event promoters will land back on their feet, but not without a commitment to innovation.