Are "Safe Event" Protocols Possible? Our take.
We've spent a lot of time in virtual industry events and on zoom calls listening to 'best practices' of how to conduct events. We've consulted with groups looking to book in 2021. The bottom line based on everything we see is: planning to conduct live events may be more wishful thinking than reality. Planners want to plan, and this is how planners react to a global pandemic. It's also our livelihood. We get it, we've done the same. No one it seems, wants to be the naysayer but the realities are hard to overlook.
In reality this is a time to plan for recovery, not to plan for a way to have live meetings safely today (August 2020) . Truly "safe" live meetings will not happen until there is a successfully implemented vaccine program or a highly effective therapeutic.
How does it impact your destination/hotel/brand if an event ends up being a spreading event? Reality is that even best practices cannot prevent the spread of a virus even under the most extreme measures (just look at Major League Baseball or our own US Congress).
Taking temperatures is moot - someone can be asymptomatic and spread Covid.
There will always be attendees who do not follow protocols (just go to any retail establishment and observe behavior).
Here's the consensus we see:
* Business related travel will be slowest to recover due to liability risks and realization that virtual meetings are productive and money-saving.
* Small, more local (driveable) events that are outdoor will likely be in demand first.
* Some events will be able to go hybrid and monetize virtual attendance long into the future.
* Leisure business specifically will be first to recover for hotels.
* If you have an event in the first half of 2021 you should be working with your hotel and DMO on several contingency plans.
Live meetings will come back. Until then, spend your time and resources preparing for the post-covid time when attendees will be able to travel and gather with confidence. We're working to develop our platform for recovery - to help DMO's, planners of every type, and of course our valued hotel partners.