Live Events: A swift return to ‘normal’?

Events matter to many businesses, especially those with the ambition to grow. From the earliest days of the livestock market to the more recent international cybersecurity trade shows, events are how people meet, learn and transact.

At Armstrong, we think that, as the Covid restrictions are finally lifted, the events sector will return strongly to meet a pent-up demand. Sponsors need to build and support their brands, exhibitors to launch new products and win new customers, and delegates to reconnect with their networks, meet suppliers and learn about industry innovations.

It will, however, be different. International events will continue to struggle with the uncertainty around travel restrictions. McKinsey recently reported that they expect a long-term dip in business travel extending beyond 2030. However, domestic travel is expected to bounce back, and local and national events should benefit from the pent-up demand within national borders. Of course, all events organisers will have to ensure that their events are COVID secure.

What the Covid crisis has shown us:

  • Market leading brands can weather even fundamental challenges such as the Covid pandemic;
  • Building & maintaining strong relationships with sponsors, exhibitors & delegates is essential;
  • Virtual events have a place in the portfolio but won’t, in most cases, replace physical shows;
  • An effective digital proposition can be key to generating new leads, the effective operation of an event and supporting delegate, sponsor and exhibitor satisfaction; and
  • There are a range of other propositions, both physical and digital, that can complement an events brand and generate significant revenues in their own right.

Prior to the pandemic, we supported Private Equity firms in over 100 deals in the events sector with common factors being strong financial fundamentals, market leading brands, attractive audiences, and a range of growth opportunities. The fundamentals have not changed, and there should be significant opportunities to create value for investment teams armed with a good knowledge of the sector, ability to support value creation initiatives and an appetite for bolt-on acquisitions.

What should teams be looking for?

  • Seasoned, flexible and innovative management teams;
  • Market leading brands, quality content and effective event organisation;
  • Robust end verticals;
  • Strong sponsor, exhibitor and delegate loyalty;
  • A well-structured business, robust operating model and effective health, safety & contingency planning;
  • A developed or developing digital proposition with the potential to support the business’s event(s) and generate revenues in its own right; and
  • A clear business plan identifying a range of value creating growth opportunities.

If you or your colleagues are thinking about events or more broadly about opportunities in the media sector, please contact Matt or a member of the Armstrong team.

Matt McNally

+44 7894 736 523
[email protected]

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