Coronavirus and Meetings
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As more than 300 million Americans find themselves working from home to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the vast majority of them say they miss in-person business meetings. According to new research from communications consultancy APCO Worldwide, 83 percent of Americans who are currently forced to work from home say that they miss attending face-to-face meetings and conventions. Almost as many (78 percent) say that they plan to attend as many or more when the threat of COVID-19 passes and it is safe to do so.
The findings, drawn from a consumer survey of 1,000 adults in the United States on the social impact of COVID-19, reinforce the important role that business gatherings play in the lives of most Americans, both professionally and personally, according to Trina Camacho-London, vice president of global group sales at Hyatt Hotels Corporation and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition.
"Our collective experience of physical distancing has us craving the day that we can all come together again and meet in person," she said. "That's a strong indicator of not only consumer intent, but also of our industry's value to people, businesses and communities."
Camacho-London added that the meetings industry, and MMBC in particular, are committed to helping meeting and event professionals navigate this crisis and "come back stronger."
"Communities across the U.S. have been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we do not take the impact of this crisis lightly," added Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company and co-chair of MMBC. He emphasized that as legislators debate the provisions of a new Phase IV recovery bill, these results are a signal to lawmakers of the importance of the meetings industry in supporting jobs and fueling the economy.
A plurality of respondents supported federal assistance for convention centers and event venues, with 49 percent of those surveyed agreeing that these sites should be eligible for federal support and funding (just 14 percent disagreed). The percent who agreed is approximately what was seen in other industries that rely on in-person activities, such as restaurants (53 percent support); personal services such as barbers and hair salons (44 percent); and grocery stores (43 percent).
Camacho-London emphasized that even as members of the meetings industry ask for support, they have also been working tirelessly to support their communities across the country (and are sharing these stories of committing to local action as part of MMBC's Commit2Community initiative).
"In lockstep with organizations across the globe, we are pursuing every opportunity to bring economic relief and inspire industry advocates to continue local acts of service — from donating food and health supplies to venue space and funds for community-based organizations," said Camacho-London. "In these challenging times, no act is too small. We urge everyone who is able to commit to taking action, sharing information and advancing best practices."