With restrictions around gatherings now relaxed across the UK, The Drum has teamed up with market researcher Opinium as part of our Experiential Marketing Deep Dive to take the pulse of the event-going public, asking 2,000 people from across the four nations about how they feel now that in-person events are back on the agenda.
So, is everyone ready to rejoin the crowd? Have we had enough of online events yet? Or is there appetite for things to be done a little differently from here on?
Here’s what we found out:
Almost half of 2,000 people surveyed in the UK say they are excited about the prospect of getting back to in-person experiences, with 19% saying they’re really looking forward and 28% somewhat looking forward to attending more live events in the near future.
This enthusiasm decreases by age, however, with 69% of 18-24 year-olds keen on the idea, 65% of 25-34 year-olds, all the way down to just 23% of those aged 75 and above.
Where our respondents are based also has an impact on their appetite for live. Breaking down responses by region finds that 62% of people in Greater London are itching for a return to IRL experiences, compared with just 38% in the East of England.
Splitting up the responses by city, meanwhile, finds that Newcastle longs most to get back to gathering (59%), followed by London (56%) and then Leeds (53%). Plymouth (34%) and Norwich (36%) aren’t quite as ready for a return to normal.
From concerts to conferences, there was a seamless shift online for many organizers right from the start of the first lockdown. But is there a desire from the public to keep these virtual events going?
When it comes to physical versus digital experiences, we find that 32% strongly prefer to attend an event in person, with a further 26% slightly preferring to do so. 22% of respondents are on the fence, equally as enamored with either, while 11% slightly prefer digital events and 5% find the allure of online pretty strong.
37% of respondents are meanwhile of the opinion that online events aren’t worth attending at all if possible attend in person, while 23% disagreed with this statement.
Vaccinations and events
While there are currently no restrictions on gatherings in England, attendance caps are in place at venues in Scotland (5,000 outdoors, 2,000 indoors, although stadiums can return to full capacity), while in Northern Ireland all indoor events must be ticketed and have allocated seating.
England was due to introduce rules that nightclub-goers must prove double-vaccination before gaining entry, although that plan was ditched on Sunday. The devolved nations are still considering similar requirements. So, what does everyone think about the prospect of vaccine passports?
57% of people are uncomfortable about the prospect of being at an event with others who have not been vaccinated, with 34% having particularly strong feelings about this. Older people in particular have reservations around being in the vicinity of the unvaccinated, with over two-thirds of those aged 55 and above expressing dislike at the prospect. Half of those aged 18-34 say they would not be keen to put themselves in such a situation either.
57% are happy to provide proof of double vaccination in order to attend live events and 41% are happy to provide proof of a negative Covid test. 61% say that showing an app to prove these things is easy and not a problem for them, although only 26% are willing to entertain the idea of queuing for longer in order for checks to be carried out.
The idea of allocated and socially distance seating at events appeals to 39% of respondents while 34% are happy to book events further in advance if it helps the venue better plan. As few as 13% would be willing to pay more money in order that an event could go ahead with fewer people, however.