As we kicked 2020 to the curb, prospects for 2021 looked promising: Congress finally passed a second Covid-relief package, which lets CVBs qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, and Covid-19 vaccines were rolled out internationally. Many believed the Biden administration would bring positive changes to the meetings industry, found Northstar’s final Pulse Survey of 2020. We were eager for some semblance of normalcy.
Fast forward one week. Political strife reached crisis proportions on Jan. 6, shaking our country to the core. The hospitality industry quickly denounced the violence at the Capitol, but we’re bracing for more attacks. Meanwhile, Covid-19 cases – and deaths – are soaring globally, and the pace of vaccinations is lagging well behind expectations.
We might have anticipated the rising virus cases and the slow progress with vaccines, but the insurrection in D.C. was a shocking blow. As a nation, and as humans, we’re rightfully upset and concerned. For the meetings business, last week’s violence underscores the vital importance of adequate security and risk management measures, but it shouldn’t further delay recovery. Live events will begin to return when enough people get vaccinated — and that is at least six to nine months away, based on the current pace of inoculations.
Staying the Course
Recovery will take patience and perseverance. David DuBois, president and CEO of IAEE, offers this analogy: "Imagine you're driving through a snowstorm and all of a sudden it's getting brighter on the horizon. The next thing you know you see sun — and you're thrilled — but you’re still scared to drive on the snow and ice that’s on the road. That's the deal. Sunshine is in the future. But we still have a lot of snow and ice on the highways that we need to drive on.”
How are you feeling about business these days? Has your outlook for 2021 changed? Are you planning digital or hybrid events? When do you expect to hold face-to-face gatherings again? What new measures – such as on-site testing or proof of vaccination – might you implement to ensure attendee safety?
Please take a few minutes to update us on your plans and expectations via Northstar’s first Pulse Survey of 2021. This ongoing research began in March 2020, as a means to track planners’ response to the challenges brought by Covid-19. Your participation in this brief survey – and in future versions -- provides essential insight to the global meetings industry.
Thanks, as always, for your valuable input. On behalf of the Northstar Meetings Group team, we wish you and yours good health, dry roads and sunny days ahead.