Coronavirus and Meetings
to see Northstar Meetings Group’s comprehensive and continuing coverage of how coronavirus is affecting meetings.
Updated March 31, 2020, 11:50am EDT
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, planners of meetings and events have had to move quickly to get the latest answers and resources to respond to client and attendee concerns. To that end, many industry organizations have provided statements and helpful resources to help planners make these decisions and ensure they are addressing these rapidly evolving issues without overreacting. From basic facts about COVID-19 and its impact on events to talking points planners can use to encourage a calm and effective response, to in-depth webcasts on contract and legal issues that can come up due to last-minute event changes, here we offer a roundup of the latest updates and resources.
The latest: MMBC announces "Commit to Community" initiative for April 14; IBTM Events launches online platform IBTM Connect. Full details below.
If you have any updates or resources to share, we’d like to hear from you. Please email us with updates.
American Hotel & Lodging Association
AHLA's Facts About Coronavirus page includes downloadable infographics and safety tips for members.
American Society of Association Executives
ASAE was one of eight industry associations to co-sign a March 5 "A Message from Leaders of the Meetings and Events Industry" stating that "Many organizations (our own included) are continuing to organize and hold meetings and events around the United States, and we applaud and support the decision to safely do so, not only for the continuity of business, but for the millions of American workers that travel supports every day. The decision to cancel meetings and events creates significant impact on the American economy and to the workers whose jobs and livelihoods are affected by reductions in these events."
ASAE followed this up with a March 6 letter to National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, urging the White House to include tax-exempt associations suffering from event cancellations and reduced meetings attendance in any federal aid package. In addition, ASAE asked the White House to include tax-exempt entities in any temporary aid designed to stem the economic fallout resulting from COVID-19. The full letter is here.
The association also posted an Issue Roundup on coronavirus, including FAQs and link to webcast on "Coronavirus: Community Conversation on Association Impact."
Association of Destination Management Executives International
ADMEI is offering a series of free webcasts to its members to help its DMO members navigate the challenging landscape. These include "Navigating Through the Uncertainty from Contracts to Conversations" with 360 Destination Group General Counsel Paul Cataudella on April 2 and "Build Meaningful (and Profitable) Relationships in an On-Screen World" with innovation expert Julie Holmes on April 7.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The organization on March 4 released interim guidance about mass gatherings or large community events planned in the United States. These include such directives as "Gather supplies such as soap, hand sanitizers, tissues and disposable face masks that will be distributed on-site. Make sure both attendees and staff members will have access to the supplies," and "Maintain a healthy stockpile of prevention supplies such as hand sanitizer, soap and face masks. Frequently touched surfaces and objects should be cleaned on a regular basis with detergent and water prior to disinfection."
Cruise Lines International Association
The organization on March 4 announced a set of enhanced screening measures for all member cruise operators. These include "Deny boarding to all persons who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in South Korea, Iran, China, including Hong Kong and Macau, and any municipality in Italy subject to lockdown (quarantine) measures by the Italian Government," and "Conduct illness screening for all persons who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in any destinations listed on the U.S. CDC “Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel” page within 14 days before embarkation. Illness screening includes symptom history checks for fever, cough and difficulty breathing in the 14 days before embarkation and taking of temperature."
This was an update to a March 1 statement advancing protocols for ocean-going guests and crew, denying boarding to those who have recently traveled from or through Iran, South Korea and China, including Hong Kong and Macau and conducting preboarding screenings.
The organization of CVBs and DMOs has launched a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Travel Industry Resource Page, with information and resources, as well as known cancellations and a form where members can submit cancelled meetings. It also hosted a coronavirus update webcast, now available on demand. DI's CEO Summit, scheduled to take place April 6-8 in Palm Springs, Calif., has been moved to December 14-16 and its CMO Summit, scheduled to take place in Seattle on April 26-28, has been postponed to Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
DI also sent out a statement that "Destinations International’s number-one goal is to give our members the tools they need, which includes accurate and up-to-date information as it pertains to the effects of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on travel, tourism and the meetings industry. We will continue to monitor and share news and factual data from industry partners around the world. We believe in the many benefits of travel and tourism as well as the resilience of our industry. Education and preparation are key to the safety and security of public health during this outbreak."
Rajeev Kohli, president of the global DMC network, wrote in statement on March 4: "The world has never in modern history seen a global situation of the magnitude that we see today...But we also understand that this situation is temporary! So, let us focus on who we really are, and what we can do, for us and our clients. Our industry is made up of varying nationalities and beliefs; varying ages and experiences; varying passions and ambitions. Each one of us has a unique voice, a unique style, a unique personality and that I believe is what makes us truly special and is what binds us. It is our differences that when brought together makes us stronger. It is time to stand strong, stand together and work on strategies to keep our industry viable and to keep the world traveling. We need to get the message out that most of the world is still very safe and open to travelers, and that plans can and should go ahead – if not right now, then maybe only postponed by a few months. At Euromic, we are already encouraging the philosophy in our clients, and their clients of 'Don't Cancel: Postpone'"
Events Industry Council
The organization is offering guidance in two ways, according to a statement from EIC chair Paul Van Deventer: first, by helping to make informed decisions about meetings based on sound information and guidance provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with health, safety and security being the top priorities. And, second, by "reminding ourselves how resilient we are. We are adaptive. Events will continue despite COVID-19. The majority of events around the world are still happening, despite what the media reports. Some will be — or have already been — cancelled or postponed. Most of them will come back just as they did after other major world events."
To these ends, the organization created a fact sheet of key messages and FAQs for members and also hosted a webcast on March 6 on "Discussion of critical insurance and legal considerations for event professionals," available on demand here.
Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals
In a statement released Feb. 29, FICP Chair Michael Burke, CMP, wrote, "As the rapid spread of misinformation and panic grows, uncertainty and fear trickles into our daily decision-making. Always focused on strengthening our members and amplifying your positive impact on your organizations as well as the meetings and events industry, the FICP Board of Directors, in partnership with industry leaders, is focused on arming you with valuable resources and the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis to help you navigate the effects on your business."
Burke urged that members access the Meetings Mean Business Coronavirus resource page for professional communications about the impact of the crisis.
Global DMC Partners
Global DMC Partners has launched a "Together at Home" weekly webcast series. The first is on the topic of “5 Ways to Increase your Physical and Mental Immunity During a Crisis” on Tuesday, March 24th at 10 a.m. EDT and 2 p.m. EDT, hosted by certified personal trainer and iPEC Life Coach Ela Duga. Register here.
The organization launched a Global Coronavirus Resources page featuring deep dives such as "What Effect Will the Coronavirus Have on the Hospitality Industry?" and "A Revenue Leader's Response & Best Practice in a Crisis."
IBTM Events launched IBTM Connect, an online resource hub for business events professionals to help navigate the current crisis. It includes an "Inspire Blog" of the latest news and insights from industry thought leaders, an on-demand library of industry speakers and more. "The launch is part of a three-step plan to keep exhibitors, hosted buyers and the wider industry connected as collectively we navigate the impact of COVID-19," the organization wrote in a statement. "Content will be refreshed regularly, including with weekly webinars from industry experts covering topics, including motivational keynote speaker Gary Bradt delivering a session on ‘how to cope during times of unprecedented change’ and Helen Moon, Founder and MD of Eventwell, talking about ‘mental health and wellbeing’."
IMEX Frankfurt released a statement on March 2 stating that it has "no plans to postpone or cancel our show despite some major events canceling across Europe in the past few days." It went on to state, "We feel strongly that it is our collective responsibility to focus on the facts and to act with common sense and sound judgement, taking the advice of the relevant authorities and scientists. In the words of Gloria Guevara, president and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), 'containing the spread of unnecessary panic is as important as stopping the virus itself.'"
International Association of Exhibitions and Events
IAEE President and CEO David DuBois and Chairperson Robert McLean shared the statement that "IAEE continues to monitor the developments of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on exhibitions and events. We are gathering information as this crisis evolves in order to understand the extent of its impact and how we may be of service. We are also gathering resources as quickly as they become available to us, in an effort to help navigate the difficulties presented by these circumstances."
The organization has created a Coronavirus Resources page where it is posting regular updates and developments. IAEE also hosted a webcast with experts who addressed legal considerations when considering canceling an event, which can be viewed on demand here.
International Association of Venue Managers
IAVM offers an on-demand webcast on "Venue Industry Update on the Coronavirus" as well as a roundup of the latest updates and blog posts on the topic.
ICCA's research division, drawing on its Association Database, released findings on meetings affected in Asia-Pacific (7.8 percent of tracked events were affected) and Europe (0.9 percent of tracked events were affected), as well as which months were seeing the greatest proportion of meetings affected by COVID-19.
ICCA announced on March 6 that it will be proceeding with ICCA Association Expert Seminar - AES in Frankfurt, Germany May 9-11, Association Meetings Programme - AMP in Tirol, Austria June 29-July 1 and the 59th ICCA Congress in Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei Nov. 1-4.
The organization previously posted a detailed COVID-19 resource guide with the latest statements as well as those from individual association members.
"We encourage our member-suppliers and associations to be pragmatic in these challenging times but to also share positive messages where possible," ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath said in a statement. "Big events are continuing to take place in their destinations, despite worries and complications brought from the COVID-19 outbreak. To boost the meetings industry during this difficult period, we should send out encouraging messages to show we are united, resilient and confident as an industry."
International Exhibition Logistics Association
On March 5, IELA launched the "Together Strong" campaign in an effort to support every exhibition and event industry in this time of uncertainty, urging industry members to share on social media images of themselves being "strong" along with the hashtags #GED2020 #togetherstrong. It offers a resource page with campaign images, logos and promotions for the upcoming Global Exhibitions Day on June 5, 2020.
International Live Events Association
ILEA President Jennifer Trethewey, CSEP released a statement on March 2 that, "In Australia, live events have been rescheduled and cancelled — delegates understandably are anxious about traveling to other countries. In talking with many of my ILEA friends and business owners, I am learning that events are also being cancelled within USA, Canada and UK. So, it’s important we provide you with some guidelines to be able to monitor the current status in your areas." To that end, the organization has created a resource page that includes a live tracker of the spread of the disease, and links to organizations including the EIC, CDC and WHO.
Meetings Mean Business Coalition
On March 31, MMBC released a statement calling on industry members to "Unite Virtually" on April 14, the original date for Global Meetings Industry Day, which has been postponed (MPI announced it would launch GMID: Virtual, in partnership with MMBC and EIC).
It also posted a "Commit to Community" video message featuring ALHI President and CEO Michael Dominguez, calling for the week of April 14 to be a "week of global unity" and urging industry members to visit the GMID "commit2community" page to share what they are doing for their communities during that week. "We are asking everybody to support their local communities in whatever way seems fit for you and your organization," said Dominguez. ""We've physically distanced ourselves, but socially we need to remember that we are a community."
On March 10, MMBC has updated its Coronavirus Resources toolkit to reflect new guidance from the CDC, recommending that employers “be careful with meetings and travel" by using videoconferencing for meetings when possible, and when not possible, holding meetings in "open, well-ventilated spaces." The resources page also includes downloadable industry talking points, a holding statement template, template for sending letters to the editor and infographics for social posts.
The members of MMBC released a joint statement on March 2 that "The situation is evolving rapidly, and we expect the influx of questions and need for resources to remain steady, particularly for front-line meeting and travel employees. In addition to providing updates and coordinating with emergency responders from the health and safety community, the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) is committed to providing tailored resources and communications assistance to industry professionals."
Meeting Professionals International
Global Meetings Industry Day, the annual day of advocacy aimed at shining a light on the positive impact that face-to-face meetings, has been postponed. But Meeting Professionals International, in partnership with the Events Industry Council and the Meetings Mean Business Coalition will be hosting Global Meetings Industry Day: Virtual on April 14. Taking place over 12 hours, it will include sessions on stress management, leading in a crisis, safeguarding your small business and staying agile. More information and registration is here.
On March 12, Meeting Professionals International President and CEO Paul Van Deventer reiterated that World Education Congress will be taking place June 6 in Grapevine, Texas and that the have added programming specific to managing the complications associated with this current situation. "WEC Grapevine may be the first large-scale gathering for our community as recovery begins, making this a key opportunity for our industry to band together and rally behind the positive impact we can make on our world."
MPI Academy has launched a series of webinars and educational offerings to help planners ensure business continuity and make business decisions at the right time.
National Association for Catering & Events
The NACE has launched a COVID-19 resources page complete with the latest news, resources for members and upcoming educational events. The board is holding a virtual meeting on March 18 at 12:00 pm ET about the NACE Response to COVID-19 and how the organization will continue to support our members and chapters.
The organization also launched a member survey, currently open through March 25, to help identify and quantify the financial and employment impacts of the coronavirus on the catering and events business.
"Based on the current guidance issued, we are operating under normal seasonal conditions," the DMC organization wrote in a statement on March 3. "Our teams are actively following the same protocols used to limit spread and exposure during peak flu season. We are also working closely with our supplier partners to ensure additional sanitation measures are in place across varied program operations.
"PRA firmly believes in the power of in-person events and we stand ready to support our clients and their upcoming programs. As a trusted partner, we are actively working to offer alternative program options including suggestions on food and beverage service, transportation logistics, tours & activities and other group interactions."
Professional Convention Management Association
PCMA's resource page offers a link to its comprehensive Crisis Management and Recovery Plan, as well as regular news updates and FAQs.
Society of Independent Show Organizers and UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry
The organizations launched "This Show Is Open," a campaign aimed at helping their members make the case to follow through with event plans, while following the guidance of health authorities and the interests of their customers. As part of the initiative, UFI and SISO will provide materials, downloadable at www.supportingevents.org, that highlight the value of trade shows and reinforce the fact that many shows are taking place successfully around the world — despite the negative headlines to the contrary. Visuals available for download include web and email banners, posters and flyers featuring the slogan "This Show Is Open for Business." More info and updates can be found at SISO"s dedicated resource page.
UFI and SISO also released a joint statement on Feb. 19 stating that "Based on [World Health Organization] assessments, canceling exhibitions in Europe, in the Americas, in the Middle East and in major parts of Asia is currently premature. Clear guidance is given on health measures before, during, and after events take place…It is every company's decision whether or not they wish to exhibit at events right now, and we call on the organizers of events to be accommodating to companies who decide not to exhibit just now. But it is just as well every company's decision to come to the show floor, to seek to meet with industry peers, to drive the exchange about how and to what degree their respective industries are impacted by COVID-19, and to secure the successful future for their businesses."
Society of Incentive Travel Executives
Posted a Flipboard with updated information and articles on COVID-19. It also posted a Coronavirus Update.
Sports Events & Tourism Association
Sports ETA announced that it will postpone its Women’s Summit, scheduled for April 1-3 in New Orleans, to later this year. It is "continuing to evaluate options" around its Annual Symposium, still scheduled to be held on April 20-23 in Kansas City, Mo. "We are going to delay opening the appointment portal until all Symposium details are confirmed," said Sports ETA President and CEO Al Kidd on March 13. "Once all details are finalized, communication will be shared with all registered attendees."
U.S. State Department
On March 8, the U.S. State Department issued an updated travel warning for American citizens considering travel by cruise ship. "U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship," the State Department wrote in a statement posted to its website. "CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking. In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures. While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities."
It also posted a downloadable list of Cruise Ship Travel Tips.
U.S. Travel Association
On March 20, the organization sent a joint letter, signed by more than 6,000 travel industry organizations, including Northstar Travel Group, to congressional leadership requesting aggressive and immediate financial relief, including:
- $150 billion in travel employment grants: Through the U.S. Department of Treasury, provide $150 billion in grants to travel-dependent businesses to maintain employment at pre-coronavirus levels.
- Provide greater financial assistance to severely impacted businesses by increasing the aggregate loan amount for severely distressed industries above $150 billion and providing the assistance through unsecured loans and loan guarantees.
- Provide at least $10 billion in airport grants to pay debt service, maintain operations, and provide critical services, along with ensuring additional support for airport businesses and essential aviation service providers. The entire aviation ecosystem that powers commercial air travel must be supported.
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow released a statement on March 12 in response to President Donald Trump's restriction on European travelers to the U.S.:
“In taking aggressive steps to protect the public against coronavirus, the U.S. government should now consider equally aggressive steps to protect America’s workforce and employers. The public’s health is the top concern, but now the policy conversation must address the health of the economy.
“Temporarily shutting off travel from Europe is going to exacerbate the already-heavy impact of coronavirus on the travel industry and the 15.7 million Americans whose jobs depend on travel. We have and will continue to engage Congress and the administration on policy steps that are necessary to ensure that travel employers—83% of which are small businesses—can keep the lights on for their employees.”
When the travel ban was expanded, two days later, to include the UK and Ireland, Dow stated that "Hearing of the need to further expand travel restrictions—especially the inclusion of our No. 1 overseas source market, the UK—is obviously not the development the U.S. travel industry was hoping for" and urged that the administration not lose sight of the "health of the U.S. economy, the small businesses that make up 83% of all U.S. travel employers, and the 15.8 million travel-supported jobs that are going to feel a catastrophic impact from coronavirus."
The industry group has also launched a Coronavirus Emergency Preparedness and Response page, with the latest news updates and specific guidance for travelers.