Poll: Hotel closures, Air Service Concern Corp. meeting planners

Hotel closures and staff cuts are the number one concern of corporate meeting planners for the future of in-person or hybrid events, according to a recent survey conducted by the Northstar Meetings Group. Almost 59 percent of respondents identified this factor as a major concern, followed by nearly 55 percent who cited the impact of the pandemic on airline services, routes and prices.

Northstar Meetings Group conducted the survey from February 16 to March 4, 2021 and received responses from 121 business planners. BTN, like Northstar Meetings Group, is owned by Northstar Travel Group.

Respondents were asked to rate their concerns about particular factors on an ascending scale of one to five, and 59 percent rated hotel closures at four or five. Constraints on meeting budgets were noted in the same way at 53%, with rigid legal or financial contractual clauses thus noted at 52%. The fear of contagion from Covid-19 was cited by nearly 45% of respondents.

Virtual still prominent

Additionally, one in four said all the events they planned would be virtual only, and 47% said more than half would. Over 47% were planning hybrid events and 53% intended to do so.

Almost one in four respondents were not convinced that virtual events would meet the needs of their constituents.

In-person events ready to come back Q4

Meanwhile, less than 25% of respondents said they don’t focus on planning in-person events at all, but the remaining 75% are in different stages of the planning process, from finding new potential events when booking or modifying the booking of events in person.

Over 41% plan to host their next in-person or hybrid event in the fourth quarter of 2021, with an additional 10% waiting until 2022. Less than 25% expect their next in-person or hybrid event occurs during the third trimester.

More than 77% said they would require masks and adherence to all protocols for their next in-person event. Twenty-five percent said they would perform rapid Covid-19 tests on site, while 19% said they would need proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

Once in-person gatherings are no longer limited, 46% of respondents expect to host roughly the same number of in-person or hybrid events as before the pandemic, but 29% plan to plan fewer events . Only 13% said they plan to plan more. For these events, 40% said the size of the live audience portion would be smaller than before Covid-19, and one in three said attendance would be about the same.

Incentives for industry recovery

More than four in five respondents (81%) predicted that the deployment of Covid-19 vaccines would lead to a faster economic recovery for the travel and meeting industry. Only 4 percent said it wouldn’t. Almost 40 percent said they did not believe the federal stimulus was enough to support the industry’s recovery; half said they weren’t sure.

Almost 65% agreed that meetings of industry organizations or related businesses should hold face-to-face meetings, provided all restrictions and protocols are followed and enforced. Almost 16 percent said they shouldn’t.

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