When this entire apocalypse started, there was a frenzy to move spring events into the fall. It was a confusing time and chaotic. The way our THG business cycle works, it allowed us to simply observe. Now here we are in the fall and those spring programs are being moved – again.
Like everyone including the experts, we are all trying to predict based on the new facts that are emerging daily. It is a constant struggle to remain sane and informed as the ‘facts and truth’ shift like quicksand.
A few weeks ago, I came to the harsh realization that my prediction was correct that this pandemic and the psychological impact would last longer than seven months however there was a very large piece missing in my analysis. While December 2020 still feels like a good date to ‘assess our current situation’, I didn’t factor in how much our world would become hardly recognizable – in less than a year.
There was no question 2020 was a write-off however 2021 seemed solid – until it wasn’t. Being an intermediator truly means ‘seeing both sides’: one being the hotels’ perspective and the other being the meeting planner.
FACT: The hotels and venues are gasping right now. Sure some resorts and destinations did well during the warm months with staycations however fall is here and this false confidence will end abruptly. Plus the reality of the large conferences that will not happen from September – December will be a jagged pill to swallow for the hospitality industry.
FACT: Planners and meeting architects are migrating to virtual platforms. While a steep learning curve, the majority are on a trajectory to a solution for 2020. So where does this leave 2021? Vulnerable. Why?Because as a former meeting planner, I understand how long it takes to plan these 3-5 days events. It takes MONTHS and even up to ONE YEAR. Meeting planners are not able to shift gears in a mere two to three months to determine if they ‘go live’ – they need a longer runway.
So how do we get liftoff for our industry after being grounded for so long? By building confidence, one meeting at a time. Initially virtual, then hybrid and then carefully planned face-to-face. The bitter truth is that it will take longer than any of us predicted to find solid ground.