This year has seen a return to the road as companies resumed travel for in-person roadshows. It comes after a two-year hiatus when the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions put paid to the traditional roadshow format.
According to the IR Magazine Global Roadshow Report 2022 featured in our winter issue, 55 percent of companies held in-person roadshows in the 12 months from Q3 2021 to Q3 2022.
Pre-pandemic, the traditional in-person roadshow was a cornerstone of IR activity. Where to go? Who to go on the road with? Which managers to take on the road? These were the key decisions for IR as the assumption of travel was automatic.
But Covid-19 changed all that. As the virus spread through Asia, Europe and the Americas, a global pandemic was declared and by the end of Q1 2020 most of the world was in lockdown. Travel was severely restricted and international business travel practically eliminated.
A vital part of IR activity was thus taken away. IR professionals had to quickly go back to first principles, evaluate what they required from roadshows and what could be achieved without going on the road. This led to the adoption though Q2 2020 of the virtual roadshow format.
Research for the IR Magazine Global Roadshow Report 2020 shows that one third of roadshows held between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020 were virtual. So even before a full pandemic was declared, companies were looking for alternatives to international travel. At the height of the pandemic, from Q3 2020 to Q3 2021, just 7 percent of companies held in-person roadshows.
As travel restrictions lifted in the first half of 2022, an initially tentative return to the road has gradually increased. In a reversal of the 2020 findings, research from the IR Magazine Global Roadshow Report 2022 now shows that a third of roadshows held between Q3 2021 and Q3 2022 were in person.
Gwyn Lauber, vice president of IR at multinational Rockley Photonics Holdings, recalls the firm’s return to the road. ‘In March 2022, we returned to in-person roadshows with meetings in Zurich and London,' she recounts. ‘Our schedule was oversubscribed, but many of the investors we visited with mentioned it was their first day back in the office. We followed that with a trip to Boston, New York and Philadelphia in May. The schedules were great, but we did have a couple of cancellations due to Covid-19.’
Fast-tracks and slow roads
It is notable that a US-based company should return to the road at first in Europe, where companies have led the re-adoption of in-person roadshows, with approaching two thirds having returned to the road as of Q3 2022.
As companies return to in-person roadshows, however, there has been a focus on domestic, in-region travel. Transatlantic travel has not regained its pre-pandemic levels. Among the North American companies that have been on the road in the year to Q3 2022, 23 percent have visited London in this time; this compares with a pre-pandemic level of 47 percent. Similarly, European visits to New York and Boston are at a comparatively lower level.
The return to the road has been much slower in Asia, where just a quarter of companies have resumed in-person roadshows.
‘The return to in-person roadshows in the past 12 months in Asia was definitely slower compared with other regions, especially with the strict regulations in place for Hong Kong,’ says William Wang, head of investor relations at Hong Kong-based BC Technology. ‘Singapore has spearheaded the opening and we expect to see in-person events come back to Hong Kong by November 2022.’
This is an extract of the article published in the Winter 2022 issue of IR Magazine. Click to read IR Magazine Global Roadshow Report 2022