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05 / 05 / 2021

Reopening the Events Industry: What to Expect This Summer ?

After months of uncertainty in the events industry, are we finally able to see a light at the end of the tunnel? This is the question that so many event industry professionals and event goers are eager to find the answer to.

After months of uncertainty, are we finally able to see a light at the end of the tunnel as the events industry reopens? This is the question that so many event industry professionals and event goers are eager to find the answer to. 2020 was the year that left so many of us unsure of what to expect, ultimately leading us to lower our expectations as more events got continuously postponed, or even canceled.

Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that the events industry has grown year-on-year over the last 10 years. 2020 was the first year that did not comply with this growth, and that too, for obvious reasons. What was expected to be a 2-week lockdown, did in fact last over a year. What does a year mean for the UK events industry?

This only touches the surface of what is considered to be part of the £42 billion events industry.

Return of Events

New Guidelines To Reopening The Events Industry

Earlier this year, the new government guidelines were released, allowing event professionals to breathe a sigh of relief. From the 17th of May 2021, up to 10,000 people can attend big outdoor festivals. And from June 21st, the industry is expected to go back to normal with safety guidelines in place.

From the day the new guidelines were announced, event organisers and suppliers quickly resumed planning their previously paused projects. This wave of optimism was not only evident in the stakeholders responsible for the organization of events, but within the general population too. 92% of European event goers said they were looking forward to attending new events once restrictions are lifted. This clearly suggests that people are eager to resume the normal lives they had pre-pandemic. As vaccination rollouts quickly tackle a larger portion of the population, we can become more optimistic about what the industry’s future holds.

As the industry gears up for the larger scale events looking to take place in the Summer, smaller scale events have now started to take center-stage – a trend similar to the 2020 events season. We have seen many drive-in cinemas, small food markets and restaurant pop-ups become the novelty and a reason for people to make plans – we’re all craving connection more than ever. These events are the perfect opportunity to test the regulations that are going to be put in place for the busier periods, in a condensed manner.

Social distancing outdoors

What Steps Do We Need To Take To Reopen The Events Industry?

Safety is paramount. This applies not only to event goers, but to organisers and suppliers alike. Therefore, implementing procedures and rules that take us one step closer to ensuring full safety, are incredibly crucial right now.

  1. Covid Testing

With Covid-19 still looming over us, and the industry’s need to resume, negative Covid tests prior to an event will almost certainly be a requirement. Some events have already started taking place in other geographies, and at a music festival in the Netherlands “festivalgoers were given PCR tests 48 hours before the gates to the event opened” and an additional “150 rapid tests were carried out at random at the entrance”.

In some cases, ‘Covid Passports’ are being considered and will be mandatory for entrance at sports matches, events and nightclubs. These passes “would show if a person had been vaccinated, had a recent negative test, or natural immunity.”.

  1. Social Distancing

Social distancing is a clear-cut way to preventing the spread. Hence the mass signage spread across all geographic locations, prompting us to maintain a safe distance of 6ft from the next person. Achieving this in an environment where people go to truly enjoy the moment, can, and will be harder.

Some of the measures that have taken place are reduction in number of attendees and increase in event site. Both options offer a comparatively larger area for each event goer, which in theory reduces contact between groups of people. This has been achieved in events where mobility is not a necessity – i.e. stadiums and theatres. However, outdoor festivals and events do not have the same logistics.

Distancing when entering the event can be obtained by generating timed entry slots to stagger attendee entrance. As for food & drinks ordering, the same can take place by using an ordering app that allows customers to order from a distance and collect their food when it’s ready.

  1. Going Cashless

“70% of people said they would be more encouraged to attend a festival/event if it were to implement a Covid-secure cashless system on site for bars, food vendors and other payments.”

There has been a clear evolution in payments, from the traditional cash transactions, to chip & pin, and then to contactless. The events industry however, has had a relatively slow uptake of new technologies. RFID was introduced to events, allowing customers to pay with a simple tap of their wrist, but the whole industry never fully stopped the original cash transactions, even though there were obvious benefits to using any of the new technologies.

Since Covid however, traditional cash-handling has now become a priority to remove, as it promotes face-to-face interactions, unsanitary exchanges, and lack of monetary control. This year, we will notice that the contactless route will be almost ubiquitous in the industry.

Reopening the Events Industry

What’s Next When Reopening the Events Industry?

As the events industry slowly reopens, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed June 21 as the date by which practically all aspects of normal living can resume, including the removal of social distancing.

Event organisers will work towards creating enjoyable experiences that will make event goers feel safe, as we hope to return to some normalcy. Event goers on the other hand, will also have to be mindful of those around them and of the restrictions in place. A joint effort will have to take place in order to hopefully reopen the events industry as it was before the pandemic.

Reopening the Events Industry

The Growth of Dark Kitchens

The term ‘dark kitchen’ refers to a remote, virtual, cloud-hosted, or ghost kitchen. Dark kitchens are not like traditional restaurants, since they only do food deliveries. Dark kitchens have a kitchen but no dining areas for walk-in customers.

Hundreds of these kitchens are already operational in the UK with most based in London. Online ordering and deliveries now make up about 30% of revenue in the food business.

Is this the future of takeaway? Some of the benefits of these kitchens include:

  • Operational costs are lower than the very high restaurant overheads
  • The kitchens are adaptable and flexible
  • Automating the sales process is easy
  • Quality is much higher since there is room to offer better quality at a lower cost
  • The kitchens have access to user data, allowing them to market themselves better

The dark kitchen business models used include:

  • The ‘traditional’ dark kitchen specializes in a single kind of cuisine, with delivery and ordering done through apps.
  • Takeaway dark kitchens are similar to the traditional format but allow customers to wait for and pick their food.
  • Multi-brand dark kitchens are composed of different brands selling different cuisines, working under the same parent company to keep costs down.
  • Aggregator-run dark kitchens are used by food delivery app channels to avail empty kitchen spaces to businesses looking for one.
  • Outsourced dark kitchens can outsource processes before doing the finishing touches and delivering
Social Distance

What Can We Expect in 2021?

Even though event caterers continue to feel the effects of the pandemic every day, we are getting closer to understanding how we will live after the pandemic ends. Preparation for the future will position you to transition into the post-COVID-19 world.

The market wants to see clean and sanitary food preparation and serving. If you can prove to your customers that you can serve them even in the middle of a pandemic, your value will increase because of better retention rates.

Introduce the new trends like electronic menus, tableside ordering (to reduce contact), self-order kiosks, contactless payment options, and virtual gift cards (for marketing).

Some events will take place in the summer of ’21, and this will be a great opportunity for event caterers to show off their newly implemented safety guidelines, whilst allowing customers to experience a little bit of the old normal. Step by step, we will adapt and overcome the pandemic, and hopefully soon, large scale events will be able to take place like before!

Stay updated to keep up, as you prepare for your post-pandemic return.

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