The long-term future of in person activities

In person activities simply refers to the ‘normal’ live interactive classes, clubs, camps, parties etc that providers have traditionally offered to customers and based their business model on. The term ‘in person activities’ didn’t exist until earlier this year when lockdown commenced and many providers were forced to move their services exclusively online. Of course, online classes and learning did exist long before lockdown, but there didn’t tend to be any grey areas or hybrid models that we are starting to see develop now. Activity providers tended to prefer the face-to-face services for greater engagement, social interaction (for both child and parent) and to simply follow the already well trodden path.

Now, it seems, the rulebook is being rewritten to some degree. The emergence of technology over the past two decades or so has led to greater opportunities in online offerings and while some have tried and failed to shoe-horn their services into an exclusively online offer, many have successfully pivoted and adapted to the situation with relative ease. While some providers have recommenced their in person services for customers, the threat of a second wave of Covid-19 and widespread lockdown measures across the UK possible, continues to be a threat and therefore suggests online services will continue to be needed for activity providers for revenue generation purposes.

While we recognise the relative ease of scale to online classes and services (alongside healthy profit margins with less overheads for providers), our current feeling is that there will be significant latent demand for when providers resume in person activities. Early sign up rates for those who have run holiday camps or classes during the summer period appear to confirm this. We also acknowledge parents and children will potentially be more fatigued by online activities, leading to greater urgency to get outside and interacting with others, favouring nature over technology.

The long-term future of in person activities (beyond Covid-19) while unlikely to significantly swing to favouring online activities, does appear less clear than before. We certainly anticipate more online exclusive activity providers with venture capital backing to enter the UK market, which will potentially see a more critical shift away from the norm. It makes sense for future proofing reasons that activity providers continue to look at how they strengthen their model and approach should a similar scenario, such as a global pandemic, occur again.

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