~ Davide Veglia
With the COVID19 pandemic and the cancellation of many meetings and events, meeting planners are faced with the challenge of mitigating financial losses as well as maintaining brand fidelity with attendees.
The entire travel service community is suffering and struggling to survive. Everyone involved: airlines, hotels, transportation, housing, exhibition, and registration companies are scrambling to find new ideas to revamp and sustain their business models. The way of doing business will never be the same.
We now face two options: either we adapt and embrace the new way of meeting and connecting, even through virtual reality, or we lose ground, opportunities, and ultimately fail.
This does not mean starting anew. Don’t try to force ideas that may be counterproductive to your next event. Instead, slowly add different pieces that may enhance the attendee experience.
Some organizations are also facing the threat of breaching their contracts with suppliers and business partners. Take advice from experts on how to resolve such issues. Implement operational changes slowly, giving stakeholders time to adapt to new formats and experience delivery.
Most of all, do not jeopardize any opportunity to do business as usual, but with a “twist.” For example, if hotel cancellations represent a financial liability, try to be creative and absorb part of the losses by discounting rates for your remaining attendees. Take any possible reservation and support anyone still committing to come to your event; they are your most valuable asset.
International attendees represent a significant opportunity as they bring money from the outside, but with the latest travel restrictions, they are your most vulnerable participants. Since most foreign attendees are usually not active members of the organization, they pay the highest registration rates. Encourage their attachment to your brand and your annual event by offering them additional advantages.
Much can be done with what you already have. Often the most obvious solutions may seem out of place; they are not! Do not throw away and forget what you have accomplished. These experiences cannot be replaced and should not be ignored. Take meaningful baby steps, and you will find yourself in a new dimension where the past is past, and the future looks bright again!