While there’s really no good news for the meetings and events industry right now, a recent survey of American workers provides motivation for planners who are busy rescheduling and reshaping their in-person events for the future.
In an April 3 survey of 1,000 Americans forced to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, 83 percent of respondents said they miss attending meetings, conventions, and trade shows. Further, the study, conducted by APCO Insight on behalf of the Meetings Mean Business coalition, reports that 78 percent of respondents plan to attend as many or more business events once the pandemic ends and it is deemed safe to do so.
Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business coalition, notes that the research sends a critical message to the U.S. Congress and Trump administration officials as they debate the provisions of the “Phase IV” recovery bill. That bill could include ways to bring financial relief to the 5.9 million American workers whose jobs are supported by meetings and conventions.
When asked if convention centers and other business-event venues should be eligible for federal support and funding, 49 percent of respondents said yes while just 14 percent said no, regardless of whether they previously attended in-person meetings and conventions as part of their jobs. The percentage in favor of federal support comes close to other industries predicated upon in-person activity, such as the restaurant industry (53 percent); personal services, such as barbers and hair salons (44 percent); and grocery stores (43 percent).
“Even as meetings are being canceled and business travel is postponed, this research proves what many of us have long suspected to be true,” said Trina Camacho-London, vice president of global group sales at Hyatt Hotels Corp. and co-chair of MMB. “Our collective experience of physical distancing has us craving the day that we can all come together again and meet in person. That’s a strong indicator of not only consumer intent, but also of our industry’s value to people, businesses, and communities.”