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Corporate Event Forecast: Pain in 2020, Rebound Seen for 2021

Special Events Magazine's annual corporate event forecast shows a dismal 2020 but a sharp rebound in 2021.

The coronavirus is clobbering the corporate event market, with some 84 percent of respondents telling Special Events Magazine that they will stage fewer events this year than they typically do. But the picture brightens for 2021, with 83 percent of respondents saying they will stage the same number or more events next year compared with this year.

The findings come from the 19th annual “Events at Work: Corporate Event Marketplace” study conducted by Informa Research, sister division to Special Events.

For 2020, 13 percent of respondents say they will stage number of events this year as they typically do. A scant 3 percent say they will stage more.

2021 BOUNCEBACK For 2021, 59 percent of respondents say they will stage more events in 2021 than they will in 2020. Some 24 percent of respondents expect to stage the same number of events next year as they will this year. A total of 17 percent say they expect to stage fewer events in 2021 than they will this year.

The 2020-2021 numbers are more extreme—both for today’s challenges and next year’s opportunities—than the results from the Special Events’ forecast from 2009-2010, when the Great Recession gripped the industry.

In the 2009 Great Recession survey, 38 percent of respondents said they would stage fewer events that year, compared with 84 percent for 2020. Some 49 percent said they would stage the same number of events (versus 13 percent for 2020), and 12 percent said they would stage more (compared with 3 percent this year).

For the 2009 Great Recession survey, 34 percent of respondents expected to stage more events in the coming year, compared with the 59 percent of 2020 respondents who expect to have a better year in 2021. A total of 50 percent of respondents in 2009 expected to stage the same number of events in the coming year (versus 24 percent in the 2020 survey), and 14 percent expected to stage fewer events in the coming year (versus 17 percent in the 2020 survey).

SPENDING DECREASE In this year’s survey, some 50 percent of respondents say that spending on corporate events has decreased more than 10 percent compared with 2019. A total of 14 percent say it has stayed constant, while 12 percent say it has increased.

Looking at 2021, 20 percent of respondents expect spending on corporate events to decrease next year, while 12 percent expect it to stay on par with 2020. A healthy 52 percent expect spending to increase in 2021 over 2020 levels, while 16 percent are unsure.

The full story, along with 10 years of look-back data, will be published in the Summer issue of Special Events, available to subscribers. Not a subscriber? We can fix that—just click here.

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