In which country do you think consumers who have participated in a conference in the past say they are most comfortable visiting a convention or conference center — the U.K., U.S., France, or Spain? According to a study conducted in October by food services and facility management company Sodexo and Harris Interactive, comfort levels are highest in the United States: 67 percent said they were somewhat, very, or extremely comfortable visiting a center for a live event, vs. 55 percent in the U.K., 61 percent in France, and 55 percent in Spain.
The research curated 4,000 people (1,000 in each country) who have attended at least one sports event, conference/convention, and/or personal event, or visited a cultural venue in the past 12 months. The first wave of the survey was conducted in June, and the second took place in early October. All of the data in this article cites October results.
More than half said they would feel comfortable attending a conference or convention in the next six months and people in France are now more likely than those in the other three countries to want to attend a conference or convention as soon as possible. Across all countries, only about two in 10 will wait until there is a COVID-19 vaccine or permanent solution.
Respondents in all four countries were also in agreement about the measures that would make them most comfortable attending an in-person event at a convention or conference center: mandatory wearing of a mask indoors, staff also wearing PPE, use of hand-sanitizer at every entrance, and social distancing. This consistency across all data sets about the measures “transcends borders and emphasizes how crucial it us for us to be fully mobilized to welcome people safely, alongside our client partners,” said Paul Pettas, PR and communications director for Centerplate, a Sodexo company.
As to what would compel them to attend a face-to-face event, keeping up to date with their industry ranks as the top reason across the board. Respondents in Spain seem to be experiencing the highest level of houseatosis during COVID-19 quarantining — nearly half said that attending conventions or conferences “gets me out of the house,” followed by 41 percent of Americans who checked that choice; 36 percent from the U.K., and 35 percent of French respondents. As far as missing attending business events — 46 percent of Americans chose this response; followed by 43 percent of French respondents; 38 percent of respondents from the U.K.; and 37 percent of those from Spain.
The tricky thing about research conducted during the pandemic is that the situation is extremely fluid. COVID-19 transmission in all four countries has surged in the more than five weeks since people were surveyed for this study, which would likely impact their answers if asked the same questions today. Or tomorrow, whatever that may bring.