After months in lockdown, many will flock back to events. Will revenge attending save the event industry from the deepest crisis ever faced?
A few weeks ago, Hermès, a luxury brand in fashion, reopened its flagship store in the southern region of Guangzhou, China. It managed to sell inventory for $2.7M, the highest ever figure for a boutique store in China.
The term “revenge buying” was born. After months in captivity, herds of frustrated buyers could finally let go and indulge in retail therapy.
Why this may sound like a quirky story, it demonstrates a behavior that is very applicable to events and could potentially signal that v-shape comeback we are all hoping for.
What does revenge attending look like? Will events be able to capitalize? Yes and No. Let’s have a look.
Revenge Attending: A Quick Guide
As Hermès aficionados, millions of people are in event starvation mode. While this need is being partially fed by virtual meetings, the lack of face-to-face interaction is a common feeling we can all relate to.
One of the reasons why doctors do not recommend starvation diets is that your body enters a ‘starvation mode,’ doing everything in its powers to go back to eating. This is a built-in protection mechanism that preserves our well being.
Revenge attending could be related to the same behavior.
Human beings are social animals by our very nature. After months of lockdown, we will do everything in our power to establish face-to-face connections again.
As a result, events will be flooded with a surge in demand we have never witnessed before.
Of course, this fantastic scenario could only make you feel comfortable about the future. Not so fast.
Making It to the Other Side of the Pandemic
Revenge attending will happen in some capacity. Those that study financial markets know that a bull cycle always follows a bear cycle and vice versa. When events enter their bull phase, only those event companies or owners who survived the pandemic will take advantage of the surge in attendance.
Making it through the pandemic should be your top priority right now. Keeping an eye on our timeline can help you stay nimble while the environment remains uncertain on a comeback.
Focussing on smaller meetings and embracing virtual will help you to stay afloat until the comeback. The idea is to keep up as much momentum as possible for when things will go back to normal. Because they will, and in a potentially unpredictable manner.
The Economy Needs to Be Ready for Revenge Attending
The coronavirus crisis is bringing along one of the worst economic downturns the world has ever faced. Needless to say, that impact on attendance as soon as things go back to normal may be catastrophic.
For revenge attending to happen, attendees will need to have the budget to attend meetings. With corporate audiences being the bulk of what makes business meetings survive, a v-shaped comeback will be tied to how companies will be hit by the crisis.
If demand goes back to normal in other sectors, there is no reason events should not expect a proportionately strong surge in demand.
Attendees Need to Be Able to Travel
Meetings and event professionals need to keep an eye on travel news. Understanding specifically how airlines bounce back from the crisis is key to weighing the impact of revenge attending.
For demand to be over the roof, event professionals need to count on national and international audiences. Many business events rely on international traffic to post profits.
In order for the industry to collectively benefit, destinations also need to be back in the game. Therefore, being able to plan an event internationally has to be back on the table.
How to Be Revenge-Attendance Ready
There are some measures you can take to make the most of the surge in in-person attendance:
- Keep investing in virtual. Make sure you keep your event brand out there as much as possible. Keep the community of your attendees going with regular online engagement.
- Help clients to pivot. If you are an agency or independent planner, help them to transition to virtual. This is how you increase your mindshare.
- Assess when your comeback is likely to happen. Start assessing a low risk strategy for your event comeback. When does it feel safest to restart the engine? When will the above conditions be met? Pick a safe date and start planning for it.
- Invest in local. The safest strategy right now is to pick a destination that can count on large local audiences. Travel is the biggest question mark we still have and local will win for the next year or so.
The event industry could experience a strong comeback from the coronavirus setback. Attendees in lockdown are experiencing a strong frustration they need to mitigate with live meetings.
Human behavior science tells us that revenge attending may be an outcome of the quarters immediately following the relaxing of lockdown measures.
Only some event professionals will be able to take advantage of the surge in demand. Keeping business going should be the priority of those that want to take full advantage of revenge attendance.