As the UK is on its way to a full reopening in June, recent research by ticketing and event platform Eventbrite has revealed that, in the hierarchy of needs, reconnecting with others at in-person events and experiences is right up there.

In fact, asked about what consumers expect to spend money on as Britain reopens, tickets for going back to in-person events and experiences was the second most quoted expense (48%), only behind eating out at 81%. Air travel was third at 45% followed by going to the movies (44%) and fitness or wellness experiences at 23% (multiple answers were possible).

Vaccination levels and guidance from healthcare experts crucial

While some types of events are already happening again, most people hope to see all restrictions dropped on 21 June, which would allow for an unlimited number of people at indoor and outdoor events, small and large. Whether they will feel comfortable attending these events, however, is largely down to the vaccination levels and the guidance from healthcare experts.

In an independent survey of 2168 British adults, conducted by YouGov for Eventbrite, over half of those who attend events (57%) will determine whether they feel safe to return to in-person events when the majority of people in their area have been vaccinated. Some 52% said they will feel safe when leading health authorities give the green light, 42% when cases drop and remain low for over a month in their area and 16% will rely on local government advice.

Event goers aim to stay local

Most attendees have revealed they would prefer to attend in-person events in their local area (74%) or at least in the region (60%). A further 43% would be happy to travel outside their region and almost a third (31%) are willing to travel abroad.  Erring on the safe side, a small number of people (6%) will continue to attend virtual events for the time being.

When asked what safety measures would make people feel safe, many answers reflected what the UK has already got used to during the pandemic: social distancing and mask wearing (49%), as well as reduced capacity (48%) and mandatory COVID-19 tests for staff prior to the event (44%). Other solutions that have occasionally been floated prove less popular with attendees: temperature tests  on entry assure just over a third of respondents (37%), as would on-site rapid testing of attendees (35%), or vaccine passports (36%).

Virtual events likely to stay, but only popular with some 

Many people have tried and enjoyed attending virtual events during lockdown. COVID-19 was clearly a catalyst for the adoption, or at least the trial, of online events. Some 44% of all event goers attended an event virtually during the pandemic, and for half of those it was the very first time. 

However, virtual events clearly aren’t for everyone. More than half of event goers didn’t attend  online events during the pandemic at all (56%), and out of those who did, 43% said that they probably wouldn’t attend online events in the future.

For events, it’s location, location, location. And cost.

Eventbrite also asked respondents to look beyond the pandemic to ascertain what they found important when attending events. Location (74%) and cost (72%) topped the charts. The type of venue, crowd it was attracting and accessibility to it were also factored into the choices people made when attending events, but ranked far lower. Interestingly, sustainability and diversity, equality and inclusion weren’t major deciding factors in choosing an event, but they are growing in importance among the younger Gen Y and Gen Z event goers.

Eventbrite’s VP Global Revenue, Joel Crouch said: “A year of staying indoors seems to have made us realise the importance of connecting at events, boosting their perceived value and importance. At the same time, our research shows that safety comes first for the vast majority of people. This gives us hope that attendees are making informed and sensible decisions when getting out and connecting with others again.” 

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