Networking in a hybrid world: how insurance is securing the future of events

The Covid pandemic has wrought havoc on the events industry during the past 18 months.

According to UFI, the global events industry association, the sector has already lost €14.4bn in cancellations worldwide, with Europe alone experiencing losses of €5.8bn. The data also shows that losses from orders not being secured by exhibiting companies adds up to €23bn globally and €9.7bn in Europe.

These are some pretty significant sums of money, but to frame this as an issue purely for the events industry would be to ignore the true scale of the impact on economies across the globe.

The revenue and business opportunities that these events, exhibitions, seminars and conferences generate for the companies hosting them is significant. Every sector, from pharma and finance to agriculture and automotive, has been suffering from the restrictions placed upon events; and while there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel as the world tentatively opens up again, nothing is guaranteed and the future of events remains uncertain.

But all is not lost. Faced with an almost unthinkable situation overnight, companies and event organisers quickly pivoted to hosting virtual events. And while many will have been faced with a very steep learning curve in their sudden switch to virtual, it seems that the experience has delivered a new kind of event – the virtual/in-person hybrid event.

A survey of 400 event and marketing professionals, conducted by Bizzabo, found that 97% expected to see more hybrid events in the future. And with the global virtual events market (currently valued at nearly $20bn) predicted to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 23.7% to 2028, the future looks bright for events, be they face to face or virtual.

But the prospects remain precarious and to make it through this period of uncertainty, the events industry and the companies it supports need to protect their events against any number of eventualities, not just Covid restrictions.

This is where event cancellation insurance comes in. In Germany alone, nearly 4,000 events are planned to take place during the remainder of 2021, but with event cancellation insurance still an unknown to many in Germany, organisations and organisers could be leaving themselves unnecessarily exposed at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

Purchased widely in the US and UK (the world’s leading event locations), event cancellation insurance provides broad cover over a range of risks including adverse weather, terrorism, civil unrest and much more.

While Covid restrictions and the chaos they brought to the events industry are at the front of most people’s minds, there are a host of issues that can and do bring events, big and small, to a shuddering halt, resulting in significant financial and reputational loss.

As confidence returns to the events sector, it is vital that companies, organisers and their brokers don’t take their eye off the more ‘mundane’ circumstances that can affect an event and ensure that the necessary protection is in place to prevent further haemorrhaging of resources and opportunities.

Event cancellation is a longstanding product designed for face-to-face events, but as more events move to an online-only basis or, more commonly, a hybrid approach, insurance has followed suit and can now provide specific cover for tech failures of all kinds.

Tokio Marine HCC’s new virtual events insurance provides organisations with bespoke coverage specifically to address the risk of computer systems failure due to cyber incidents, which risk cancelling or interrupting events. While the covers available may be evolving, the principle remains the same – to protect events from the unexpected. And if the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that we and our clients should be prepared for the unexpected at all times.

The events sector has shown an incredible amount of resilience throughout this period – it has taken a huge hit but it has adapted rapidly and come out fighting, albeit in a slightly different format.

Now is the time that companies and event organisers need the insurance industry the most. So, it is incumbent upon all of us in the industry – insurers and brokers– to match our clients’ enterprise and resilience with a willingness and capability to provide the support and protection they need to get this sector back on its feet.

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