Survey method and timing
Visit Wales commissioned Strategic Research and Insight (SRI) to gather feedback on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the events industry in Wales. SRI conducted an online survey with businesses in Wales who work in the events industry and the wider supply chain for events, held between the 12 November to 8 December 2020. 174 responses were received from a range of businesses. However, most responses came from event organisers and planners, those working in the AV and technology side of events, freelance event organisers and support, and venues
At the time of surveying, Wales’ 17 day firebreak, which started on the 23 October 2020 and ended on the 9 November 2020, had just come to an end and some non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen. Events were still not allowed to take place, however, with minor exceptions including wedding ceremonies.
The results of this survey should be treated as indicative of the experiences of those who completed the survey, and are not necessarily representative of the events industry in Wales. As this was an online survey, the sample was self-selecting so is not random or weighted. The survey is not, therefore, a representative survey of events businesses across Wales. Nevertheless, the results provide an insight into the difficulties faced by businesses in the sector.
Significant impact on staff
75% of businesses who responded to the survey, and who employ staff, have needed to put staff on furlough. About half (52%) who employ staff have either made redundancies, issued notice of or intend to make redundancies, or anticipate having to make redundancies. 58% have taken on no or fewer temporary workers compared to normal.
Some have lost a significant amount of revenue
The median loss per business responding to the survey from the crisis is between £50,001 and £100,000. The median loss per business differs by size of business. The median loss for those who employ 1 to 5 staff is within the range of £100,000 to £250,000, whilst the median loss for those who employ more than 50 staff is more than £1,000,000.
About half (48%) of those who’ve lost revenue have lost over 80% of their annual revenue.
 There is a small sample size when reporting results by size of business, and, therefore, an element of caution needs to be applied when interpreting these findings.
Current and future outlook
Only 9% who have attempted virtual or hybrid events have made a profit on them. 47% say they broke even when conducting these types of events and 44% made a loss.
Few are confident that many face to face events will occur in 2021. 57% anticipate fewer events in 2021 compared to normal, whilst 20% feel there will be the same number of events in 2021 as normal, and 15% feel there will be more.
There are fears that skilled workers will leave the industry and never return. When events are allowed to resume, businesses would appreciate a clear roadmap from Welsh Government so that they can prepare well in advance.
Only 13% of businesses can say with any certainty that they expect to survive for longer than six months. 38% feel they won’t survive longer than six months, 40% say it depends on certain factors, and 10% say they don’t know how long they will survive.
Among businesses who expect to survive less than six months, the most common value of additional funding required to survive is in the £10,001 to £25,000 range. Although a quarter need over £100,000 to survive.
42% of business say that they can raise some of the additional funding needed themselves. However, around half (53%) of these say that they can only raise between 1 and 24% of the additional funding needed to survive.