Duty of care takes priority in M&E programme planning

Attendee safety is of paramount importance in pandemic times, but C-Suites also emphasise a strong case for ROO and ROI before signing off on programmes.

Safety of attendees and compliance are paramount in post-pandemic M&E programmes.
Safety of attendees and compliance are paramount in post-pandemic M&E programmes. Photo Credit: gettyimages/weerapatkiatdumrong

Cost efficiency used to be the driver of many meetings and events (M&E) programmes in the past. With the pandemic, planners must prioritise duty of care more than ever – if they have not already done so.

Fulfilling the criteria for duty of care requires planners to have their hands on relevant attendee data that helps them understand their attendees’ profiles and draw conclusions on where the accountability of liabilities lie.

When meetings and events return and rebound strongly from the pandemic disruption, they will be based on even more robust and stringent meetings and events (M&E) programmes. C-suites signing off on M&E programmes want strong affirmation on their ROO and ROI from planners, according to the BCD Meeting Trends Report 2022.

These two criteria will be the key focal points for M&E moving forward, and planners are required to take heed. It is worthwhile noting that the definition of “duty of care” is not just about traveller safety anymore. Employee health and well-being have become topics of priority on the boardroom agenda, forming the overall umbrella for the more holistic definition of “the culture of safety”.

According to a 2021 research article by IHG Hotels & Resorts on the renewed optimism for human connection among global travellers, 45% of business travellers reported that their trips improved their moods and raised their level of motivation. Titled “Is togetherness the next destination for travel?”, the article also highlighted that 40% missed face-to-face interactions with clients, while 50% missed the meaningful relationships built through these cross-border interactions. For planners, these findings provide food for thought as they work on developing their M&E programmes.

With events being cancelled, planners have had to go back to the drawing board in getting reorganised and in redoing budgets and proposals. Those who were well prepared would have the data on hand to determine what budgetary risks were involved and to plan their contingencies. On the other hand, those who did not have an overview of meetings and events in their organisations would have found difficulty in assessing risks and liabilities. Both scenarios illustrated the need to have a robust M&E programme in place.

Many organisations would have implemented new meeting protocols by now and have re-written the playbooks on regulations and requirements to ensure they are in compliance with government regulations and safety protocols. Clear and measurable M&E goals are crucial in establishing the value of balancing duty of care versus ROO and ROI yardsticks.

Overall, “companies are seeking consistency in spend categories across APAC markets, with M&E a perfect example of this. Meeting programmes are increasingly being launched into multiple markets to drive bigger returns and impact”, according to the BCD report.

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