SE Asian live events executives discuss impact of COVID-19 on region

A survey conducted by Singapore-based PouchNATION, an offline-to-online solution for events and recreational venues in Asia, found that 81 per cent of all SEA events businesses experienced reductions across staffing levels, salaries and overheads due to COVID-19.

PouchNATION hosted a webinar on April 29 to discuss the results from the in-depth survey circulated amongst 255 respondents from within the events industry in the region.

The pilot session took place on on PouchNATION’s Facebook page, with prominent executives including, Martin Haigh, the former SVP Asia at Ticketmaster Hong Kong, Komkrit (Gary) Sirirat the deputy managing director BEC-Tero Entertainment Thailand, Damian Bush, the managing director at Singapore Sports Hub, and Coran Maloney a managing partner at Kolour In The Park Thailand, among others.

Koen van Geene, director of special projects and country head for Thailand and Myanmar, said: “Since inception some six years ago, PouchNATION has positioned itself to be a serious regional player in the Southeast Asian Event’s Space. In the light of the global pandemic, we had been in discussions with our clients regarding ideas, initiatives, and the concept of ‘the new normal’.

“More than ever we believed that across the industry all types of stakeholders should join forces in an effort to revive the events industry. This resulted in the initiative to conduct a series of surveys and webinars.”

The executives discussed the need for the industry to be “proactive in creating new and workable SOPs, which are acceptable to all stakeholders as well as patrons.”

One of the speakers noted: “This is not the time to sit back and wait for official bodies to come back to us and stipulate how things are going to work in future. We should work with them and lead from the front.”

The survey found that 28 per cent of respondents reduced their operating cost through overhead reduction, as well as salary and headcount reduction.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent of live events executives in the SEA region said exploring selling new products and/or services was the best way to see businesses through the global downturn from COVID-19. Thirty-eight-per cent said creating new online business ideas was also key, while 17 per cent said exploring entering new territories was important.

PouchNATION found the majority of respondents expect ‘small events’ (up to 500) to return in Q3 and Q4 of this year, with larger events (5,000-10,000) to return in Q2 of 2021. Meanwhile, 39 per cent of all respondents said they do not expect to see a return of 20,000+ events until Q4 2021 or even later.

The webinar panel also discussed the need for new measures, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and technologies. It noted that social distancing is not practical for festival-type events, therefore technology should be used to help, with other proposed solutions including self-temperature checking, on-the-spot/ instant testing, GPS contract tracing, and strict requirements for masks, health and travel declarations.

PouchNATION’s next virtual conference is scheduled for May 20 and will focus on the effects of COVID 19 on entertainment venues and hospitality industries. Another webinar will be help on June 10 to discuss Meeting, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism.

A pre-event survey will also be circulated to gather the topic attracting the most interest.