The return of Incentive Travel, Conferences and Events

The opening of this post took some careful consideration. I’m sick of hearing the phrase “unprecedented times”, and whilst “we’re all in this together” may ring true on occasion, the repetitiveness of its use dilutes the meaning of the words to nothing more than polite speak.

So I’m going harder – the start of 2020 has been absolutely shithouse!

The MICE industry has been one of the hardest hit both in Australia and overseas. Cancellations have hit across the board. Many events have been postponed to 2021, which is great, but there’s no revenue in 2020 and many businesses in the industry may not make it through to 2021.

There is, however, some minuscule light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. The Australian Chamber of Tourism and the Tourism Restart Taskforce have released a timetable for the restart of business events and domestic and international travel, among other industries (see the table at the bottom of this post). It’s great that there is such a plan in place and it provides welcome relief for many businesses in the MICE industry.

The question I have though, is how will the new era of business events look?

Conferences with chairs spaced 1.5 metres apart or only 3 guests on banquet rounds?

The end of the buffet for conference meal catering? Some would say this is a good thing.

Hybrid events, where some guests attend a venue and other guests attend virtually?

Hand sanitsers everywhere? Twice as much scanning of attendees so there’s a record of their every move at an event? Twice as many coach transfers to ensure social distancing onboard?

All of the above is going to come at an additional cost, so will this mean clients are less likely to hold events, or do corporations realise that nothing can replace the relationship building and experience of a face-to-face chat at a conference, exhibition or on an incentive trip?

Only time will be able to answer these questions and the MICE industry will certainly be prepared when live events can start up again. On a personal note, I think now is the time to work with clients to prepare for the latter part of 2020 and certainly the start of 2021, to ensure that any meetings, incentive trips, conferences and events can be planned and locked in to keep building on relationships and delivering the best of events into the future.