Research Outline

Future of Live Events


To understand when live "business" focused events are likely to come back at 100% capacity, as well as details on whether a live/virtual hybrid will be in place long term and what keynote speakers can expect in terms of preparing for live versus virtual events.

Early Findings

  • According to a survey conducted by Northstar Meetings Group, only 25% of the 1,160 respondents surveyed in July believe that events postponed in 2020 will still be held in the current calendar, a decrease from 40% in June.
  • Confidence varied by region with 58% of UK planners planning "to hold live events this year or in the first quarter of 2021," while from all regions 56% believe the earliest return of live events will be the first half of 2021.
  • Although specifically related to arts venues and theaters, a survey published in May 2020 found that only 19% of people in the UK would return to live events.
  • A survey of Canadian citizens conducted in July found that the intention to attend future live events had increased across all categories, indicating that more people were showing a willingness to attend live events.
  • A survey of 1,000 Americans in May 2020 found that more than half the people over 30 would "most likely" attend a large in person event after the pandemic, while this was 63% for Gen Z. Of note, "one in three want all attendees to be required to wear masks, 33% demand capping capacity at limited numbers and 29% want temperature checks. Almost one in four believe there should be mandatory corona testing before anyone is allowed to enter an event."
  • An article by CNBC indicates that some large companies such as Adobe and SAP are increasing attendance by hosting events virtually. It is expected that some changes, like improved production and keeping some aspects virtual, may continue even after the pandemic.
  • Some experts believe the advantages of virtual conferences means many companies will continue to hold them even when in-person in again possible.
  • Hybrid events, those that combine virtual and in-person elements, were growing in popularity prior to the pandemic, and "are expected to be a significant part of the future."

Summary of Findings

  • During our initial research, we found several statistics related to live versus virtual events, some directly related to business conferences, but most related to live entertainment.
  • There is more data available specific to the business conference space.
  • After the initial research, we feel safe stating that there is still much uncertainty in the space, and there does not appear to be a consensus on what it will look like moving forward.
  • Since no geographical focus was provided, we provided a global focus as that is where the data led.