Americans working from home are eager to be among people again, affirms a new survey commissioned by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and conducted by APCO Insight. Eighty-one percent of professionals who attended in-person meetings and conventions before the pandemic miss doing so and would be just as likely – if not more likely – to go to business meetings and events in the future.
The survey echoes similar findings from April 2020. Just a month after most businesses had closed their offices, 83 percent of homebound employees said they missed attending in-person meetings and conventions. One year later, they don’t just miss it: The majority of the 1,000 respondents from across the U.S. say in-person meetings and conventions are critical for their professional development, as they facilitate better relationship-building, enhance internal team engagement, allow for clearer communication and help build trust.
“It is encouraging to see that many of those who are working from home are just as eager to get back to in-person meetings and events as we are,” said Michael Massari, chief sales officer of Caesars Entertainment and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. “Communities across the country continue to suffer from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting decline in business travel. Our industry is starting to come back and has taken critical steps to assure health and safety.”
More Meetings on the Horizon
New research by Northstar Meetings Group supports strong anecdotal evidence that at-home workers will have more opportunities to gather face-to-face very soon. Early results of Northstar's latest PULSE Survey, which has been tracking planners' response to the pandemic since March 2020, show a significant uptick in the number of planners actively booking new business. (The survey remains open for planner responses through 2 p.m. ET on March 2; results will be released on March 3.)
Meanwhile, in-person meetings have been taking place around the country, following the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and adhering to state and local restrictions.
“We are diligent in following guidelines set forth by public health authorities and are uncompromising in our commitment to ensuring the safety of every meeting attendee,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company and MMB co-chair. “Meeting health and safety standards is a necessity, not an option. As an industry, we are committed to doing the right thing, the right way.”
In Favor of Federal Support
The survey research, Dixon noted, is also very telling as lawmakers debate the latest pandemic relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Forty-five percent of respondents, including those who don’t attend meetings, believe convention centers and event venues should be eligible for federal support and funding.
“While Covid-19 has changed so much, this survey reaffirms the industry’s value to people, businesses and communities,” Dixon said. “After a year of social distancing, we all have a newfound appreciation for coming together and meeting in person.”
The research was conducted Feb. 17-19, 2021. The 1,000 respondents, based on a national sample provided by Dynata, were balanced by age, gender and region.