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ALHI Executive Women in Leadership_General Session 2.jpg

2021 State of the Industry Forecast, part 2

Part 2 of the State of the Industry 2021 forecast.

Editor's note: This is part 2 in our 2021 State of the Industry. Check out part 1 here.

As we start thinking about the future of the catering industry, The big question is…

When do you think the catering and events industry will return to some semblance of normalcy? Here is what your peers said:

  • Q4 2020 - 1%
  • Q1 2021 - 3%
  • Q2 2021 - 21%
  • Q3 2021 - 29%
  • Q4 2021 - 14%
  • Q1 2022 - 16%
  • Q2 2022 - 11%
  • Other - 5%

And, “other” does not necessarily mean beyond Q2 2022. Most comments pointed to widespread distribution of a vaccine as the tipping point, many were unable to speculate, and one stated, “As 2021 is still very unclear about what events can and will occur, the worst may still be ahead. The need to work efficiently and profitably on each job is crucial.” 

We clearly hope it doesn’t take that long, but if we tally the first four listed percentages to your left, we are at a solid 54% of the group who believe events may be somewhat back to normal by June 2021 and beyond. 

ALHI Executive Women in Leadership_General Session 2.jpg
The 50-person ALHI Executive Women in Leadership conference in August 2020 (Naples Grand Beach Resort) was designed with many COVID-19 protocols, including PPE amenity kits, and spaced seating. Photo courtesy ALHI 

When we are once again “normal” two-thirds of event planners (66%) answered yes to: If you have the opportunity to reconstitute your business to what it was before the COVID crisis, would you do this? However, almost one-third (29%) believed that business was poised for greater success in its new form. Just 5% were unsure... but unsure in what seemed to be a more positive light. One respondant said, “We certainly can’t wait to get back to producing large, live events, but on the flip side, some great things have come out of this for us during this time.” Another noted, “I believe some changes and adaptations were for the better and should be carried forward and other changes will be difficult to maintain but will likely be the way of the future.” Finally, “retirement beckons” for others.

Travel time

For those of us who travel for our jobs, or who offer destination events, here is some good news for you: people are already twitchy (in a good way) to board planes: 40% of respondents named Q4 of 2020 as when they would be ready to travel personally. It gets better. By Q2 2021, that percentage jumps to 70%. For business, by Q2 2021, 64% will be traveling for business. OK, so we at Special Events were interested especially in Q3 2021 (…our big show and all…) and personal travel rises yet again to 82%. For business: 80%. Whoo hoo! Considering Miami Beach is also a great location for a family vacation, we can only expect that we will see you all live there next July!

Ridgewells Catering developed beautifully appointed single serve boxes to provide to client guests having an otherwise virtual event experience. Photo courtesy Ridgewells Catering

Money money money money

Over half (59%) received government assistance in the form of PPP or grants; 31% of companies returned event deposits with no holdback; 41% returned deposits with either some offset for costs already incurred or held onto some deposits per the terms of the contract. Only 16% of event planners asked that a non-disclosure/non-disparage agreement be signed before money was returned. 58% of companies made substantial changes to their event contract terminology, such as adding a waiver of liability clause/hold harmless agreement) because of the current crisis.

Come back next week for part 3 of our State of thet Industry forecast. Also, check out the Special Events Magazine Winter Issue for 10 years of look-back data.

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