If you don’t know, now you know: The state of events still has a long way to go before our industry even comes close to being ‘normal’ again.
In March of 2020, the Alberta Live Events Coalition (ALEC) was created to provide information and support to event industry professionals. When the pandemic first hit, they provided some interesting and devastating news:
“In September  an informal survey was sent out to industry professionals. 119 surveys were returned, and the numbers were staggering. Since COVID-19 shut down the event world 11,000+ events in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer were either postponed or canceled with a loss of $291 million dollars. The numbers keep climbing.”
To give us the current happenings of the industry we turned to Caitlin McElhone, the founder of CM Events and Government and Media Relations with the ALEC board. Here’s our mini interview:
Q: Does the province have a timeline for when events will be in-person for social or corporate gatherings?
A: “…most professionally planned events (tradeshows, conferences, festivals, weddings, etc.) and entertainment are not scheduled to ‘open’ fully until Step 4 (based on <150 hospitalizations). Our industry, unlike many others, requires many months of notice to start back up so it is crucial to give us a specific month/date we can work from or to start allowing events based on venue capacity.”
Q: When in-person events are approved to come back, is the province mandating what measures will be in place (covid testing at doors, etc.)?
A: “This is a complicated question to answer as there are so many different types of events and no one answer that will solve for the specific needs of each sector of our vast industry. Outdoor event, music and festival producers are working to secure funding and approvals for rapid testing in our Province now and ALEC is working on best practices for industry professionals to follow to ensure safe event practices are being followed and met going forward.”
Q: Any predictions of your own that you would like to share?
A: “The natural human instinct and craving for in-person encounters and connections will never go away, and when allowed again, events will play a huge role in bringing people back together in all sorts of wonderful and meaningful ways. Based on what I’ve observed, I think our industry will see a few things start to happen:
- Hybrid events are here to stay and will allow events to reach a new, broader audiences for the foreseeable future.
- Because of this trend, I think we might start to see more intimate and smaller events being coordinated with an ‘at-home’ experience guests can choose to purchase tickets to.
- Outdoor events will rise in popularity and become the go-to option if available and will push cities to value outdoor public spaces and maybe even start to create unique venues or permanent tent structures for events to use.”
We hope Caitlin is right. So far there has been some optimistic news: on March 8th, 2021, Alberta implemented Step 2 of the easing of restrictions. To summarize the updated restrictions, here is what Alberta Health Services is recommending for events:
- Banquet halls, community halls, and conference centres can open for all activities permitted under Step 1 and 2, including hosting virtual meetings, conferences and events
- Wedding ceremonies are allowed up to 10 people
- Funeral services are allowed up to 20 people
- Wedding receptions, funeral receptions and trade shows are not permitted
- Individual performers or performance groups (10 participating maximum): can access indoor and outdoor facilities for rehearsals, filming, or broadcasting virtual performances
- Masks are mandatory at all times and 3-meter physical distancing must be maintained at all times
- In-person spectators and audiences are not allowed
- Larger, indoor film and other performances may be allowed subject to an approved plan that follows strict new guidance
Step 3 in easing the restrictions could be around the corner, but Alberta will need to see less than 300 people hospitalized. If restrictions are lessened there is the potential for banquet halls, community halls, conference centres and hotels to re-open. Easing of performance activities (entertainment), indoor social gatherings, and indoor seated events with social distancing and other minor restrictions
In addition to ALEC, both the International Live Events Association (ILEA) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) have held virtual events to help planners, vendors and the like navigate this time. From hosting at-home happy hours for people to greet and share their grievances and worries with like-minded people, to informational sessions to provide answers about changes to event contracts, things to change about business running etc. However, both are at mercy of the ever-changing environment of the world events.
Tycoon will bring more updates next month and we hope to be onto Step 3 at that time. If you’re looking for virtual event solutions in the meantime, take a look at our Virtual Event Resource.
– Your Tycoon, Steph XO