Survey: Event-Goers Are Eager to Meet Again, Very Soon

When large business events return after the COVID-19 pandemic, most attendees will come back quickly; new health protocols will be a deciding factor.

research attendees want to meet

Coronavirus and Meetings
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A large-scale study released yesterday by Enigma Research, supported by Northstar Meetings Group and its SportsTravel brand, strongly demonstrates that people are eager to return to live events, particularly if new health measures have been implemented. The survey of 2,000 event-goers concluded that 94 percent of respondents specifically miss attending large conferences and trade shows.

In fact, 90 percent of respondents are likely to return to business events when they resume -- and they're not planning to wait. More than one-third (36 percent) will attend business events immediately, and another 23 percent will wait just one to four weeks. Only 18 percent plan to wait until a vaccine is available before participating in large events.
New protocols will up the odds of getting them there. The most influential measures will be hand-washing or sanitizing stations provided throughout the venue, cited by 76 percent, closely followed by "extreme sanitation and cleaning" procedures at venues, including in the restrooms (75 percent).

According to Northstar Meetings Group's latest Pulse Survey, meeting and event planners recognize health and safety protocols will be required in a post-COVID-19 business environment.

Among other key findings: 

• Mixed feelings about masks. While 35 percent would prefer that all attendees wear face masks, 34 percent say that would not be a factor in their decision to attend, and 31 percent would prefer that masks not be required. Half consider it a plus if food servers wear masks.

• Social distancing is a maybe. Almost half of respondents (48 percent) are more likely to attend if social distancing is enforced at entryways and registration. Somewhat fewer respondents (44 percent) favor enforced social distancing between attendees during the event. One in four are less likely to attend if they need to be six feet away from other participants. 

• Smaller is better…for some. Forty-five percent would be more likely to attend a business event if the number of attendees is limited to allow for social distancing. At the same time, a smaller crowd would be a deterrent to 19 percent of would-be conference-goers.

The 2020 Return to Live Events Survey was supported by SportsTravel, Northstar Meetings Group, the International Festivals and Events Association, the International Association of Fairs & Exhibitions, and Exhibitor Media Group. The 2,000 respondents represent all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces, and each had attended a live event -- including sporting events, festivals, fairs and large business events -- in the past two years.

For highlights of findings specific to sporting events, including esports, read the SportsTravel story, "Survey: Sports Fans are Ready to Return and Travel to Events."

The complete 2020 Return to Live Events Survey survey results can be found here.