As countries continue to grapple with controlling the spread of Covid-19, the meetings and events industry has begun the long and challenging road to recovery. Around the world, including parts of Asia Pacific, restrictions are being eased and face-to-face meetings and events are gradually being allowed to resume.
At CWT Meetings & Events, we are seeing positivity among our clients in various markets, with corporates starting to make domestic event inquiries and arrangements for Q4 2020. However, even as live events start up again, it’s becoming clear that things aren’t going back to “normal” – at least not for a while.
First, we need more flexibility. The situation remains highly unpredictable and restrictions can change at the last minute, so corporates are naturally cautious about planning meetings and events.
In response, many airlines, hotels, venues and other suppliers have introduced simplified contracts, as well as revised policies to allow changes or cancellations at short notice without severe penalties.
Hotels are also being more adaptable in how they allocate space in order to limit contact with other groups. These initiatives have certainly helped companies plan and book with more confidence.
We also need more patience. Many suppliers now have smaller teams, and in some cases junior staff with less experience have had to step up to handle sales. This has resulted in longer turnaround times for RFPs and made the negotiation process more time consuming. As such, it’s a good idea for organisers to build in longer lead times when planning events.
And, of course, we need more wisdom. Never has it been more important for meeting and event management companies to step up our game and become trusted advisors to our clients.
Organisers are seeking clarity around restrictions. They want to know what options are available to them, and the risks involved. And they are looking for guidance on how to create unique, engaging and memorable experiences for their attendees in the safest possible way.
Companies like ours need to leverage our extensive experience, our domain knowledge, and our vast network of supplier partners, convention bureaus and other stakeholders, to provide organisers with the heightened level of support and counsel they need during this period of uncertainty.
Michelle Sargent is director, Australia and New Zealand, at CWT Meetings and Events