Survey: One-in-four won't attend in-person business events again

Just 34 per cent of businesspeople in the Republic and 30 per cent in the north currently feel comfortable attending a face-to-face event, according to a new survey.

ONE-in-four businesspeople in the north do not see themselves attending face-to-face events again, a new survey has found.

Chartered Accountants Ireland surveyed 800 people across the island of Ireland in the past fortnight to gauge the attitudes to live events following moves to lift restrictions on both sides of the border.

It found that in the short term, assuming all safety protocols were in place, just 34 per cent of respondents in the Republic and 30 per cent in Northern Ireland would feel comfortable attending a face-to-face event.

A further one-in-three in the Republic expressed a desire to wait until all restrictions are lifted before attending in-person, compared to 20 per cent in Northern Ireland.

But, the study found a higher proportion of respondents in the north still want to stick to virtual events in the longer term.

One-in-four of those surveyed in Northern Ireland do not envision themselves attending face-to-face events again, with virtual their sole preference into the future. That compared with just 12 per cent in the Republic.

Stormont has already green-lit the return of indoor conferences and exhibitions with one metre social distancing in place.

Dublin is expected to lay a “comprehensive” roadmap for the easing of restrictions for indoor events at the end of August.

While Stormont’s vaccination programme was much faster out of the blocks than Dublin, the Republic is now ahead in proportional terms.

Around 84 per cent of the Republic’s adult population is now fully vaccinated, with more than 90 per cent partially vaccinated.

That compares with Northern Ireland, where 77 per cent are fully vaccinated and around 86 per cent have at least one dose.

The Chartered Accounts Ireland survey found the type of event was a key factor in the decision whether to attend face-to-face or virtually in the long term.

Larger conferences, awards ceremonies, and social events were more likely to attract respondents in-person.

Committee meetings and AGMs were the least likely to attract in-person attendance.

Director at the industry body, Brendan O’Hora said September traditionally involves an upsurge in business events.

“Our findings show that at this stage of the pandemic, even with a large proportion of adults covered by the vaccination programme in both jurisdictions on this island, a shift has taken place when it comes to events, be they CPD courses, AGMs, conferences or social gatherings.

“We see a strong appetite to attend larger scale conferences, awards ceremonies, dinners, and social events in person, because while virtual events offered attendees greater time efficiency and flexibility in the last 18 months, for three-in-four respondents it came at the expense of networking opportunities.”

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