Venue and event risk in a re-calibrated world post-COVID

By Alex Beck | May 14, 2020 9:40:11 AM

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Venue and event risk in a re-calibrated world post-COVID

By Alex Beck | May 14, 2020 9:40:11 AM

Size of the industry pre-COVID

This article will focus on sporting events and venues, an industry which exploded in the 1970s with the commercialisation of sport. In the major events world, the 2000s saw the IOC and FIFA’s marketing revenues top one billion US dollars. From the biggest events to the smallest, the industry has never been threatened like this before.

In the shutdown it’s time to get planning for an eventual return to “normality” so that your event or venue can hit the ground running and start succeeding in areas that it did not pre-COVID. It might be a world where events do eventually look “normal” again, but will they be? This article aims to encourage thought while reflecting the huge uncertainty that we all now face.

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A couple of the uncertainties

Will there be a public attitude of increased thrift, and an enduring worry of big crowds? We’ve entered a world that feels less secure, and mass gatherings are thrown into a whole new light. Will the demand for events live in venues pick up where it left off? Will TV demand actually rise as people enjoy events in the safety of their own homes?

Will there be a business attitude of increased thrift? It seems like there already is. Every expenditure is now scrutinised. Cost-saving becomes an even higher priority – which parts of a business take the hit and which other parts actually become more important? Well, here’s one…

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Risk and issue management

Risk planning suddenly gets a lot more complicated and necessary. There is plenty to think about to tighten up your event or venue’s processes.

Risk management technology is an additional expenditure that will save you more than it costs, bringing coherence, collaboration, and responsibility to your operations – and keeping you on top of your mitigation steps and contingency plans.

Knowledge transfer is all-important – the continuing battle against event-to-event organisational amnesia. If there’s ever a time to learn lessons, it’s now.

Event insurance – this safety blanket will feel very comfortable now. We’ve all heard the statistic about Wimbledon’s pandemic insurance. Check this out from London 2012 too: $1.3bn of insured value, with total market exposure to cancellation valued at between $5bn and $6bn. It’s an essential outlay to factor in, no matter the size of your event.
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Some starting points in identifying risk

Where should risk planning focus next? There is so much to consider here: these are just starting points of major, event-threatening risks.

Financial risk. The “optimism bias” of hosting events now changes to pessimism bias.

Security and terrorism. Sadly, if you think “major event” and “risk”, you think terrorism. A repetitive tale, although proper security is very largely keeping our events safe.

Cyberterrorism. The entire event and venue infrastructure is only becoming more reliant on technology. Ticketing, event control, you name it. In the build-up to London 2012 there were a team of around one hundred specialists rigorously interrogating the IT infrastructure to locate potential weaknesses. They sought to establish potential sources of attack and how they might then be thwarted. And technology is essential to deal with other risks. This is an area where the source of the issue is becoming more creative and elusive, and so increasing creativity needs to be deployed in response.

Weather and natural occurrences. Extremes of weather might be becoming only more extreme as global warming and climate change continues apace. This is a very difficult risk for the industry to deal with because it can rarely be pre-empted and any effects cannot be quickly mitigated. The 2011 Rugby World Cup was hit by earthquake damage in Christchurch; the 2012 New York Marathon was abandoned due to Hurricane Sandy. You cannot predict the exact nature of this risk, but you can plan for it.logo line

Summary: Responsible planning has to begin now.


View our full guide to re-opening your venue, event or attraction during COVID-19 here.

Yes please!


Or, read our seven best practices for managing risk in your event planning here.

We have also produced a comprehensive white paper aimed at helping events, venues and organisations to deal with uncertainty. Click here to read The Complete Guide to Risk and Issue Management.


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