COVID 19 impact on the meeting profession

As you are reading this blog you are either working from home, temporarily laid off, worrying about your job or staying at home looking after your kids - but above all you are likely crossing your fingers that COVID 19 passes as fast as your busiest event. These are most certainly challenging times for the meetings and events profession, none like we have ever seen before. If you are stressed about the future of our industry, I am here to say relax – this too shall pass.

We know the numbers are staggering and self isolation sometimes feels worse than the virus itself for meeting and event professionals who not only thrive off being around other people but who’s livelihood depends on it. Although, I do believe the “in-person” events will bounce back, this trying time most certainly has forced all to think about the future of the industry and how we adapt and overcome to remain resilient as we climb out of this pandemic.

We are experiencing event cancellations and postponements like no other - festivals, meetings, annual conferences and everything else. If you are one of the lucky ones, your event isn’t until the fall, but that still leaves uncertainty as to whether this chaos will have passed by then or if people will register for your event. (I sure hope so!).

While we look to the future of the meetings and events industry and more specifically your events, here are some things that we should all be thinking about today and as we shape the industry for the future:

1. Relationships are key in this time of crisis. This is incredibly important as we look at things like “cancellation insurance” or event postponement. We are all hurting – the planners, the organizations, the hotels, convention centres – everyone! It is key to work with your partners early to find out what kind of insurance coverage you have for event cancellation or postponement and work collaboratively with your stakeholders to manage this process.

2. Communication. As we speak about in the CMP Prep Course, Risk Management planning is critical. If you didn’t have a risk management or crisis communication plan in place, I bet you will be creating one now. This is also true for contingency and business continuity planning. It should also be stressed that communication with all stakeholders is imperative - don’t leave them in the dark – this includes attendees, sponsors, and staff among others.

3. Going Virtual? If you have immediate events, how can you take them virtual? Are they small conferences that you can move to a virtual setting? Can you take part of the event virtual? This will be a major shift in the industry as we come out of this pandemic. Events will continue to be held in-person; however virtual hosting will become more prevalent.

4. Be-kind. Above all be kind to one another. We are in a state of emergency, and this will eventually pass, but we are hurting, so we need to come together to ensure we all come out on top of this crisis.
The state of the industry is bruised but we will recover and become bigger and better than ever. This crisis has allowed me to further realize how important this sector is to the global economy and the world. We are one of the worst hit sectors, but we are a resilient industry and I look forward to sharing a cocktail and in-person chat with you in the near future. In the meantime – see you online!