Corporate Event Buyers Survey reveals key trends for 2021


Story and Venue Search London’s survey of over 150 corporate event buyers gives a real insight into the current thinking around the timing of returning to live, the ongoing use of virtual and hybrid events together with plans for the all-important 2021 Christmas party season.

Their key three key findings from the survey, which was undertaken after the Government announced the pathway out of lockdown, are:

The return to live will be slow and steady:

The above chart shows us that smaller events will return first with over 50% of companies planning to stage a live event before the end of September. For larger events, the return will be slower, with 60% of companies planning to run an event in an external venue by the end of the year. Interestingly, the willingness for corporate buyers to personally attend a trade show or industry event is predicted to be well ahead of their own event plans. This indicates the more cautious approach that larger hosting companies will have, when compared to the “willingness to attend” live events.


They anticipate that these numbers will improve and increase across all metrics as the news of the vaccines’ roll-out and efficacy gives the wider adult poulation confidence in future event safety over the coming weeks and months.

Virtual/Hybrid events are here to stay:

With the up-skilling of agencies and in-house event teams and the increased capability of online platforms, it is no surprise that many companies are planning use virtual and hybrid platforms for many months and years to come.  

Many businesses are also planning to continue working from home or offering more flexible working plans, which will further boost the demand for online streaming, especially for conferences, exhibitions, product launches and brand activations. There are also strong sustainability, enhanced reach and cost reasons which will further fuel this trend.

Christmas plans on hold for now:

Again, it comes as no surprise that the vast majority of companies are delaying a decision about hosting a live Christmas party in 2021 until they get more clarity and confident that social-distancing will be a thing of the past and dance floors can be open and packed with happy partygoers.  

The survey’s author, Story’s CEO, Sam Gill comments; “Whilst virtual parties have filled a much-needed gap in social events, most will return to live if they can. Encouragingly, the survey indicates that very few have decided to cancel their party at this stage.

Our advice to our clients is to wait for a further two months, by which time we should have more certainty about the future regulations for later in the year and to ensure that bookings are protected by relevant postponement and cancellation clauses, so that changes can be made at a later stage, if required”.

You can view the recent webinar where these results were presented and discussed with our CEO, Sam Gill via the video below:

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