The European Restart Has Been Dampened: CTS Eventim Takes Stock At Year’s End

Despite the continuing rain, these visitors of Southside Festival 2019 are in a good mood.
Christoph Schmidt/picture alliance via Getty Images
– Despite the continuing rain, these visitors of Southside Festival 2019 are in a good mood.
The festival is promoted by FKP Scorpio of the Eventim Live family. Like all major festivals in Germany, it had to cancel two years in a row.

As the year comes to a close, we reached out to CTS Eventim. The live entertainment giant is based in Germany and operates worldwide, which gives it a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced in each market.

Germany is one of the most important destinations when touring mainland Europe, given its central location, experienced professionals in all fields of the trade as well as its advanced venue network. However, it is currently also one of the most restricted markets. 
The rest of Europe is a patchwork of rules and regulations, and the UK’s promising reopening run since summer has been stifled by the latest coronavirus variant. The U.S., where CTS Eventim runs a joint venture with promoter legend Michael Cohl, is almost back to business as usual. We asked the company to take stock at the year’s end. Since CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg wasn’t available for comment, a CTS Eventim spokesperson replied.

CTS Eventim
– CTS Eventim

Pollstar: Please describe you state of mind at the end of 2021.

CTS Eventim: The entire event industry had certainly hoped to see a light at the end of the tunnel with the availability of vaccines and given the initial success of the vaccination campaign in many countries. 
Unfortunately, the restart has been dampened by the rapid increase in infection numbers from the fall and a slowdown in the pace of vaccination, such as in Germany. The result is new uncertainty in the industry and especially among our customers. 
As a company, however, we have been able to take advantage of opportunities in the midst of the crisis in 2021, as announced.  We pushed ahead with our international expansion strategy and inorganic growth. In North America, we have entered the ticketing market and we are currently building up our Live Entertainment team in Asia. Combined with our live entertainment activities in North America, we will then be in a position to offer worldwide tours.
In addition, our arena project in Milan is gaining momentum, and in the area of digitalization we have strengthened our position with the majority takeover of simply-X, a software and hardware developer of innovative solutions for admission control. With the acquisition of K├Âlnticket and Bonnticket, we supplemented our regional ticketing offering. 
We also made progress in our important software area, where we developed a powerful solution for checking digital health certificates. For Ed Sheeran’s European tour, we used EVENTIM.Pass, a digital ticket developed in-house, for the first time to combat the unauthorized secondary market
Supported by strict cost management and our solid financial position, we will continue on our chosen course in 2022.
Europe still has no clear, let alone streamlined, reopening strategy. How do you navigate this patchwork of rules and restrictions leaving 2021 and entering 2022?
The infection situation generally varies greatly from country to country, and in many countries incidence rates have risen sharply recently. In most countries there are capacity restrictions and the measures look different per country.
Similar to Germany, restrictions are often tightened again, such as in the Netherlands with a lockdown between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. or mandatory vaccination in Austria from February 2022. In the UK, mandatory masks are reintroduced indoors and working from home is recommended. Our international teams can only move along the guidelines of the authorities and do what is possible. 
What are you envisioning the next year to look like in terms of putting on concerts and tours in Europe, if such an assessment can even be given at this point in time?
What is possible and what is not will depend on the course of the infection. How quickly vaccination campaigns progress will also play an important role, especially in countries like Germany where the pace of vaccination has slowed significantly. 
In general, Europe has seen a surge in ticket sales over the summer and fall, such as for Ed Sheeran’s European tour. In the meantime, however, the high infection rates have already left their mark again.  But as of the end of 2021, we are hopeful that we will be able to welcome fans to our big festivals like Rock am Ring and Rock im Park in Germany next year.