A comment by Joel Crouch, VP Global Revenue at Eventbrite

After an exceptionally challenging year for the live events industry, the government’s roadmap for reopening England after the COVID-19 pandemic sets the stage for the return of in-person events – and ultimately, the recovery of the live events economy. People have a voracious appetite for live events that’s been bottled up for over a year now, and they’re already looking for live events in the summer. In the week after the announcement, we sold ten times as many tickets for in-person events during the summer (June-August) than in the week before it.

However, even when all restrictions on events are lifted on June 21 – as projected – the summer events landscape might still look and feel different to what many are expecting today.

Small Events and Attractions Likely to Return First

Smaller, local events and attractions are likely to return first, and we might see far fewer of those big music festivals on green fields. Unlike festivals, smaller events and attractions are quick to organise, and they don’t usually need to outlay vast amounts of money. This makes them faster to adapt to potential changes in the reopening timeline. For them, it makes sense to get their events for the summer online as soon as they can to meet the pent-up demand for live experiences.

Many Large Events Still on the Fence over Event Insurance

The situation for larger events is very different. While some music festivals, like Reading and Leeds Festivals, Latitude and Parklife have already announced they’ll go ahead this summer, that’s by no means the norm for the industry. Many organisers are still on the fence or have already canceled their 2021 edition. Large events, like festivals, are planned well in advance, and require substantial upfront investment. Organisers of these events need certainty today that their event can happen later this year. As it stands, though, and while nobody would want to see it, changes to the reopening timeline are still possible, and this creates financial uncertainty. Normally, event cancellation insurance would cover this, but right now, insurers – no doubt under the impression of the past year – don’t like their chances.

‘Let Live Thrive’

That’s why we at Eventbrite are joining forces with the ‘Let Live Thrive’ initiative, calling for a government backed insurance scheme to give the industry the confidence to start planning for summer events now. The time to get such an insurance scheme on the way is running out, and the government needs to take decisive action on this as soon as possible. We believe these guarantees should support event creators of all sizes, so that additional small- and medium-sized festivals, music venues, and cultural organisations can begin planning for 2021 without fear of lockdown-related losses to enable the summer of reconnection we’re all hoping for.

Digital Ticketing in New Places

We’ll also encounter digital ticketing in places where we wouldn’t have seen it before the pandemic. Last summer, many outdoor attractions like heritage sites or animal parks introduced Eventbrite for the first time to set up timed entry slots to allow for social distancing and tracking and tracing. This came with other hallmark advantages of digital ticketing. It’s likely that the ability to offer pre-booking, the option to process payments digitally to avoid handling cash on site, and having a precise overview of ticket volumes and revenues at any time will convince most organisers and attractions that tried digital ticketing to stick with it.

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