EMEA Events Industry Poised for a Return to Face-to-Face Events in 2021

A recent EMEA survey among event industry professionals indicates there is an appetite to return to face-to-face events in Autumn 2021 — particularly if there is a hybrid component.

Author: Michelle Russell       


Of the 377 respondents to a recent PCMA survey of the EMEA region, 66 percent said they attend IMEX Frankfurt. (Photo courtesy IMEX)

In October, PCMA invited stakeholders in the business events industry in the EMEA region to participate in a survey. Their responses yield insights about their expectations for the future as COVID-19 continues to challenge traditional ways of doing business. Here are some highlights.

Who Responded

The 377 respondents who participated in the survey came from a variety of organisation types — predominantly PCOs, associations, venues, and CVBs — and were an experienced group. Three-quarters of them have spent more than a decade working in the events industry. Their roles also reflect this level of experience: 36 percent said they are managers; 28 percent are directors; 14 percent own their companies; and one out of 10 respondents are at the CEO level. One hopeful statistic — only 3 percent said they are not currently working.

Where They Meet

The majority (62 percent) indicated that most of their events are held in Europe; 14 percent held the majority of their events in the U.K.; and 9 percent said their events were held worldwide. In terms of industry events they themselves attend, IMEX Frankfurt was the most popular choice, ticked by 66 percent of respondents, followed by IBTM Barcelona (55 percent). The Meeting Show and ICCA Congress were nearly tied — 33 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

What They Read

Respondents rely primarily on LinkedIn for industry content (89 percent), followed by newsletters (56 percent), and industry publications (55 percent).


Digital Events

More than three-quarters of the respondents (76 percent) said their organisation has digital expertise. In terms of what motivates they themselves to attend digital events, education tops the list (85 percent), followed by learning about the latest industry developments (70 percent), knowledge-sharing (50 percent), and networking (41 percent).

Finally, when asked how they would be most inclined to participate in an event — the PCMA European Influencers Summit — in the third quarter of 2021, the largest percentage (37 percent) of respondents said they would most likely consider a face-to-face event with a digital component (hybrid event), followed by a face-to-face event with safety protocols in place (34 percent). Fifteen percent said they would attend an all-digital event. In all, 94 percent said they would definitely attend or consider participating in the PCMA European Influencers Summit — in whichever format it takes shape.

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