Meetings & Conventions … the Last to Recover

In this post:  The U.S. Travel Association reported in August 2020 that meetings and conventions are one-fifth of tourism industry’s losses, Northstar Meeting Group’s Pulse Survey highlights the impact while Kevin Iwamoto of Bizly makes astute observations, Dr Peter Ricci of Florida Atlantic University moderates Meetings and Events -What’s the reality for 2021? with members of the event industry.

Let’s get right down to the really bad news. Spending related to meetings and conventions declined by a staggering 86%,” according to Angie Briggs, vice president of industry relations, with the U.S. Travel Association, “compared to the same period in 2019 – early March to August. This represents one-fifth of the total tourism losses amounting to $64 billion dollars.” 

In the hopes of leaving the world of virtual and hybrid gatherings behind, Northstar Meetings Group (NMG) shared survey results for the following question,”When is the earliest you are scheduling new meetings and events?  

Prior to the surge in COVID-19 cases in July, a June 2020 survey indicated 75% of planners were looking to 2021 and beyond for their new events.

In a late August survey, shared in mid-September by NMG, respondents indicated 35% were holding off until after Summer 2021.

September to Year-End 2020 11.99%

Quarter 1 2021 20.99%

Quarter 2 2021 22.22%

Quarter 3 2021 10.93%

Quarter 4 2021 6.70%

Quarter 1 2022 17.81%

In a late October survey, with COVID-19 cases again rising, fear of travel and budgets became the top concerns. To the same question asked in June and August, respondents now indicated more events (in-persona and hybrid) were shifting to Quarter 3 2021and away from other time periods.

The goal post (live convention participation) continues to move farther into the future (as shown above), as COVID-19 cases linger or rise.

On the plus side, Northstar reported in August 2020 that resorts and beach destinations – which offer more opportunity for social distancing and a chance to get outside to enjoy the fresh air – should be the first venues to return to in-person events. While good news for many, it leaves downtown convention centers closed or with challenges for the near-term.

For the latest, Northstar Media Group Pulse Survey, click here.

Kevin Iwamoto, the chief strategy officer of Bizly, a meeting management software company, astutely observed this about the meeting industry:

In-person, face-to-face meetings as the world once knew them – a place to network, sell and learn – are now gone … deceased. In essence, the industry is grieving, struggling and denying the situation. The sooner planners move through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, helplessness, depression – the sooner they can reach the final stage – acceptance. To listen the podcast, click here.

Dr. Peter Ricci, director of Florida Atlantic University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Programs moderated a webinar in early December 2020 entitled Meetings and Events – What’s the reality of 2021? Panelists included meeting and event planners, representatives of Live Events Coalition, the International Live Events Association, Maritz and MPI. The one pearl of wisdom shared by Dr. Ricci was that world events of this caliber will forever change the way meetings and events are held. He reminded participants that this will be similar to how the world and air travel changed after 9/11. Before the coordinated terror attacks in the U.S. anyone could meet arriving parties at the gate. After this tragic event, parties were forced to meet elsewhere.


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To learn more about event and festival management, check out “Secrets to Successful Events:  How to Organize, Promote and Manage Exceptional Events and Festivals.” For those with event planning experience, consider, “Secrets to Successful Events Resource Guide: 42+ Easy-to-Use Tools and Resources.” Both are written by internationally known author and speaker Lynn Fuhler and are available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

To obtain a copy of The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide, click here.

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