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Business Travel is Moving Again. Are You Ready?

Posted by Michele Hutchinson on 3/30/21 2:30 PM
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Earlier this month, Northstar Meetings Group issued its latest PULSE Survey gauging how many meeting planners had in-person events on the books sometime this year. Their findings might shock you.

A whopping 81% declared their next event will be held sometime in 2021, with many of these same planners holding their events by the end of the second quarter.

COVID-19 is clearly still a global health risk, but as vaccines roll out and different areas of the world find their groove in preventing the spread, the meetings industry has prepared for this positive upswing.

In one of my previous blog posts in mid-2020, I wrote about how conscientious collaboration was key in ensuring the meetings and events industry could survive in a post-COVID world. Findings from ICF Next boiled down to this one statement: Restore travel confidence by convincing customers that hotels and organizers are doing all they can to create the safest travel experience possible.

Eight months later, this philosophy is still the “It” factor in restoring consumer confidence, and we’re seeing the fruits of that mindset shape the industry now.

For example, Censuswide released survey results showing that four out of five travelers would be confident to travel if there were more contactless payments, mobile boarding and more rapid-testing for COVID. There’s even a growing movement for health passports to be a requirement for international travel as it relates to COVID-19 status, ensuring any potential health risks are well-documented. Already several “brands” of these passports are in development, as detailed in the link above.

As it relates to venues, hotels have already been competing to stand out as the bleeding edge of health and safety protocols. Marriott and Hilton continue to lead the pack with features like in-house hybrid event apps, electrostatic sprayers and more. Airlines have already implemented touchless and mobile services where possible as well, with 64% of airports planning to implement biometric gates for self-boarding no later than 2023.

Speaking of hybrid events, they’ve become near-mandatory since late summer 2020, and best practices are still undergoing constant fine-tuning. That said, those taking advantage of in-person events are taking the opportunity to improve the hybrid experience, creating models for other companies to follow for their next events. Here’s one such example at the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons conference in Dallas, Texas, streaming content to venue, homes and hotel rooms to promising results.

And if you’re wondering how you can add true empathy to your next event, ask yourself these questions (posed by SuccessfulMeetings.com):

  1. Are you addressing re-entry anxiety with your audience?
  2. Are you transparent about any new safety or travel procedures you may have in place?
  3. Are your stakeholders adhering to these new rules? Is this adherence visible at all corporate levels?
  4. How flexible is your event? Are participants able to switch means of attendance without penalty? Is your event a hybrid one?

Answering all of these questions with a clearly defined plan, executing that plan when it’s showtime and even kicking off a back-to-business event under these new rules isn’t a bad idea. If this is the new normal, we’re ready to help our clients navigate it safely and securely.

See us at Morley if you’d like us to assist in your next event, whether it’s a back-to-business celebration or your next big annual event.




Topics: hotel, Travel industry, hotel industry, COVID-19, collaboration, conscientious, meetings, reflection


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