A new campaign is being launched today to promote the UK’s world-leading £84bn events and experiences industry, which employs more than 1.5 million people, but has effectively been mothballed since March.
The #wecreateexperiences campaign will raise awareness of the unique power of business events to educate, inspire, celebrate, support society and add value. The first phase is targeted at the business community, urging them to deliver trade shows, conferences, product launches, charity fundraisers and other live events in 2021 as they are given the green light to resume.
It will educate decision makers about the economic impact of live events; reassure them they can be staged safely; and inspire them to start planning and briefing now for events and experiences that will grow their business.
The campaign video includes contributions from rugby World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson and Will Greenwood; double Olympic champion Daley Thompson; astronaut Tim Peake; chefs Angela Harnett and Tom Kerridge; comedian Rory Bremner; events promoter Harvey Goldsmith; and leading charities.
In a survey of business leaders, 96% said that events and experiences add value to their business and 93% said their absence since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic have had a detrimental impact on staff engagement and internal communications. Seventy-five per cent said the marketing of their business had suffered without live events.
More than one in three said that on-site testing would give them most confidence that live events can return safely and 74% expect them to be back by either the second or third quarter of 2021.
The events industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and a survey of more than 1,600 businesses which will be presented to ministers, reveals the toll it has taken on the mental health of events professionals amid a collapse in income and mounting redundancies:
- 83% say they have struggled with stress or anxiety
- 41% say they have experienced symptoms of depression and 7% have experienced suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
- 57% have experienced feelings of loss or failure
The survey of event owners, organizers, agencies, suppliers and freelance workers lays bare the impact of two lockdowns and other restrictions as more one in three have seen every scheduled event cancelled since the coronavirus outbreak:
- 71% of companies have seen their turnover drop by 60%-100%
- 33% have only enough capital to last for up to three months and a further 39% can only last for up to six months
- 64% of organizers cannot run any of their events sustainably under current restrictions, which permit a maximum of 1,000 in Tier 2 areas, and only 6% can make a profit
- 22% of companies have reduced their headcount by more than 40% since March
The findings also throw into sharp focus the role of freelancers in the events industry with 84% expecting to earn less than £20,000 this year and 49% earning less than £10,000. Almost one in two say they had been unable to access any government support except for Universal Credit.
#wecreatexperiences is the latest campaign to be supported by One Industry One Voice, a coalition of events industry associations and businesses, representing thousands of agencies, promoters, organizers, venues, suppliers and freelance communities.
Industry leaders have been working with the government on a roadmap for the return of live events, outlining a comprehensive series of safety measures that have been put in place, going beyond mandatory protocols and utilizing the latest technology, including touch-free registration on arrival, one-way systems, rapid testing and air filtration to create bio-secure venues. They are working on plans to use business events for mass same-day testing trials.
Simon Hughes, co-founder of the #wecreateexperiences campaign said, “The events industry is ready to get back to work and to play its part in rebooting the economy. We are known internationally for our world-leading safety standards so we can be trusted to stage safe events that will help businesses grow and showcase their work, charities to generate much-needed revenue and allow all of us to experience the pleasure of the real, rather than the virtual world.
“Our industry provides employment across the UK, creating opportunities for young people, generates £165bn in trade and touches millions of lives through business events and exhibitions, festivals, weddings and community and charity events. Our message to the business community is: we know you have missed us and we are ready to welcome you back in 2021”.
Professor John Drury, who leads the Crowd and Identities Group, at Sussex University added, “There is extensive evidence showing that emotions and groups are good for our mental and physical health. Attending live events not only brings us joy but is good for wellbeing. This is not just a matter of lifting people’s spirits. The economic cost of mental ill health in England has been estimated at £105bn a year. Through bringing joy, live events make a vital contribution to both our emotional and our economic wellbeing”.