As conferences and meetings resume globally, many event professionals are looking forward to meet again — but may feel somewhat lacking in face-to-face meeting skills after being stuck behind a computer screen the past 18 months.
From Hilton's EventReady Playbook, which was launched in 2020 to support planners in executing Covid-safe events, members from Hilton Worldwide Sales in the Americas have been chronicling their efforts towards the company's first major in-person conference in two years. Here are some of the lessons learnt along the way:
Don’t skip the warm-up:
If business travel is like a workout, many of us are out of shape. Spend extra time “warming up” or paying attention to your travel and conference details. Make sure you are aware of the local health regulations and mandates of your destination, including mask and vaccination requirements, to avoid surprises.
Take extra time planning transportation:
If in need of a car rental, reserve your car and flight at the same time and as far in advance as possible, as car rentals are in high demand. When booking your airfare, be aware of airport policy changes and what they mean for your travel times.
Avoid the lines (and dead batteries):
The world is more contactless than ever before. Before travelling, download the relevant travel and hotel check-in apps to make your experience more seamless. Additionally, as you may be using your phone more, consider bringing an external charger to resolve any on-the-go battery boosting needs.
Hold back on the hugs:
Returning to in-person events after nearly two years can cause both excitement and anxiety. Because you can’t predict everyone’s level of comfort, think twice before reaching for a hug or extending a handshake. Instead, watch for social cues or, if appropriate, simply ask your colleague if they are open to a particular gesture.
Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint:
Recognising and actively working to sidestep engagement fatigue will help you make the most of your experience and avoid business trip burnout. Attending too many sessions or networking events can lead to a loss of engagement and focus. Pick and choose which optional sessions and networking opportunities you want to attend so you have ample time to rest and recharge.
One way to maintain your mindfulness while attending a work event or conference is to keep your routine. Visit your hotel’s gym, if available, or a nearby trail for a jog. Check if your hotel supports working out in the privacy of your hotel room.
Finally, be prepared for how services at event and lodging venues have changed. Food and beverage services, for example, may not be what they were pre-pandemic. Get familiar with the dining options provided by the conference. Plan out when you want to grab-and-go solo, eat with others or plan to dine outside of the conference to get acquainted with the local cuisine.
When home, remember to recharge:
After returning home from business travel, take time to recharge. Before divulging all trip details, check in with your friends and family. Remember, while you may have gotten a mini-getaway, they did not. Take a day or two to settle in and get into the swing of being back home and helping those around you.