The inaugural Premier League Hall of Fame ceremony has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Two players were set to be inducted at Thursday’s event in London and a shortlist of nominees for future inclusion, voted for by fans, was also to be announced. The ceremony is just one of a number of high-profile events, trade shows and conferences that have been axed in the wake of the crisis. The UK events industry is worth over £14 billion each year, with more than 25,000 UK businesses providing services to events around the world. 

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has estimated the economic impact that COVID-19 is having on trade shows and exhibitions. It said at least €23 billion of contracts have not been concluded as shows don’t take place as planned. The exhibition and events industry has already lost a total output of €14.4 billion euros. “Globally, the fact that more than 500 trade shows have not taken place in recent weeks is creating an escalating ripple effect for whole industries”, says Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director / CEO.

Based on the current numbers and size of the events not taking place, €14.4 billion euros of economic output have already been lost. Hardest hit is Asia/Pacific, where the impact is already reaching more than €8.4 billion. In Europe, with an ongoing wave of postponed and/or cancelled shows, the impact is already reaching €5.8 billion euros.

Many of the events that are not taking place this quarter are being postponed – and rescheduled to take place later in the year. This may help to reduce the mid-to-long-term impact. “But even short-term postponements have an immediate impact because they delay scheduled business and revenues. This poses an existential risk, in particular for small and medium-sized companies,” says Christian Druart, UFI Research Manager. 

So, what steps can be taken to help these industries survive in the wake of the pandemic? One obvious solution is to take events on-line, particularly with the travel restrictions now being introduced across the globe. Virtual and hybrid event platforms offer live streaming, certification, lead nurturing, branding, sponsorship and analytics. Webcasting allows presenters to show PowerPoint slides and host Q&A sessions. Video conferencing and the streaming of keynote speakers can also be used to stage a virtual event. 

Microsoft’s Build developer conference is heading down this path. The software giant was planning on holding its annual developer conference in Seattle from May 19th to May 21st, but Microsoft has now decided to make it a “digital event.” A Microsoft statement said: “The safety of our community is a top priority. In light of the health safety recommendations for Washington State, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build event for developers as a digital event, in lieu of an in-person event. We look forward to bringing together our ecosystem of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect and code together.”