“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage…”
Remember hearing those words? For most of the world, it’s been more than a year since we’ve experienced a live, in-person event. You’re certainly not alone if you miss meeting friends after work to hear a crooner perform in a lounge, getting dolled up for “dinner and a show” with your date, or listening to a guitar blare through gigantic speakers in a sold-out auditorium.
Neither economists nor event professionals could have predicted the devastation dealt to the events industry during the pandemic. Make no mistake, 2020 was a year of cancellations, postponements, and uncertainty for in-person meetings and live events. But, according to some industry insiders, there are good reasons for optimism that events will get back on track in 2021.
Jon Lewis, president of Nationwide Expos, based in Denver, CO, offered his thoughts on the future of in-person events.
“I think they will come back strong,” shared Lewis. “As the restrictions relax, and the mounting pressure to get out and see and do things rises, people will come back.”
But will events ever truly return to the way they were prior to the pandemic, though? Or are heightened regulations and restrictions now permanently part of the event experience?
“At some point it will go back. People have different expectations. While businesses and organizations may be concerned about liability, as people get their vaccines and states start to loosen mandates, we will go back.”
Although, the road to that return seems long, some significant headway is being made. For starters, President Biden recently announced that every American will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine by May. Does that mean the events industry will be back to business as usual by June? Of course not, but it’s a significant step forward.
But even when vaccines do become more widely available, there will still be hurdles to overcome. For instance, do entertainers want to tour? What states are open? What about mandates restricting venue capacity? For a promoter or agent, getting a big act to come to your city takes months of planning and promotion. Given the complications, it could be a while before you see any mega acts in your town.
Of course, not all venues, shows, and in-person events have the exact considerations to maneuver around, so count on varying timelines for return. Lewis, for example, is reopening his business on a state-by-state basis. “30 to 60 days out, we have a green light for shows to open up in Wyoming and Utah. While some other states like Colorado are still in the yellow zone and figuring out how to move forward.”
Although there is no set date or time for everything to open back up and get back to normal, we are headed in that direction. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we’re back to thousands of screaming fans jamming out to our favorite band.