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The Future of Travel: Will Destination Meetings and Conventions Still Exist?

The COVID-19 pandemic has stunted the travel, events, and conventions industries. Across the globe, large events and conventions have been canceled to stop the spread of the virus. From the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo to the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, many of the events we’ve been looking forward to are being pushed to 2021. When will things get back to normal?

Read on to learn how the pandemic may affect how we plan for events in the future, as well as some tips to make your event as safe as possible.

Event Planning during COVID-19

Planning an event during COVID will be a great challenge. The decision to go forward with previously scheduled annual events will depend on the discretion of the primary location’s government. The current state of the outbreak in that region will determine if the event can take place or not. So, are there even best practices on how to host an event during COVID-19?

Many big events aren’t taking the chance. The New York Times Travel Show, the largest North American travel trade show, was scheduled for January 2021, but has recently been cancelled. This decision was based on a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the United Kingdom, another popular travel event, World Travel Market,  was originally scheduled as a live event in November 2020 at the Excel Arena in East London. The event planners and the venue had teamed up to invent a new strategy to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Despite these efforts, it was announced in mid September this event will be virtual only. This is the first year since its inception in 1980 that World Travel Market has not hosted a live event. 

How to Host an Event with Social Distancing

To safely plan an event with a large crowd in the age of COVID, new procedures and protocols must be put in place. If the local municipality allows your event to take place, start by investigating all the new rules and procedures that you must comply with. Here are a few of the protocols you can implement:

Contactless Payments for Retail Transactions

To avoid the spread of COVID due to contact with cash and coins, many companies are eliminating cash as a payment option. World Travel Market has implemented this new safety protocol, which includes cashless transactions with food vendors. Also, only prepackaged food will be available in the venue during the event. 

Face Mask Requirements

This protocol is becoming the standard in the new normal. Be sure to display signage throughout the venue to remind visitors that face masks are required. If your event has visitors from many different countries, then signs with photos of mask wearing or short translations in other languages may be needed to ensure all visitors comply. 

One-Way Routes throughout the Venue

To maintain social distancing guidelines, create a one-way traffic pattern in the venue. Display appropriate signage and markings throughout the venue so visitors are aware of the direction they need to travel.

Limit Capacity in Indoor Rooms

To maintain the required social distancing required for a large event, there will need to be room capacity restrictions in place. If you’re hosting small gatherings like seminars, set up fewer seats in event rooms to keep the social distance measure in place. You could also do this by requiring attendees to RSVP for seminars or meetings. This way, you’ll get an idea of interest and be able to plan capacity measures. 

Eliminate Handshakes and Personal Contact

A handshake with a business colleague has been a universal custom for many years. Unfortunately, that custom will have to cease and be replaced by a socially distant wave or air-five. 

Press Releases to Share Information

Prior to the event, send a press release to all registered attendees that details all the new protocols in place. You could also send a video of safety procedures that the venue is implementing. Provide your visitors with contact information in case they have any questions or concerns.

Virtual Event to Accompany Your Live Event

Due to varying travel restrictions worldwide, the attendance to your event may be less than that of previous years. A great way to combat the lower attendance is to create a virtual event in addition to or in replacement of your live event.

The success of Arabian Travel Market last June can be an example of how to host an event virtually. During the three-day virtual event, over 14,000 virtual meetings took place, as well as many live webinars. This event was so successful that an additional day was added to enable participants to schedule more meetings via Zoom.

The success of ATM inspired WTM to schedule a virtual event the week after the convention at the Excel Arena was originally scheduled. The following week a virtual event via Zoom meetings will take place for persons that would have been unable to attend in person. After the announcement of new gathering restrictions in the United Kingdom, the event will be a completely virtual event. 

Learn How to Host an Event on Zoom

The Zoom meeting platform has seen a surge in popularity since the pandemic has broken out. If the location of your event or convention is still under restriction for a large gathering, hosting a virtual event may be a viable alternative. Event planners should follow the model of businesses like Arabian Travel Market on how to host an event virtually. Visit the Zoom website to learn more, create an account, and get assistance in creating your virtual event. 

Explore the Future of Travel with Us

Destination meetings and conventions are slowly coming back in the era of events during Coronavirus. Event planners will have to adjust and evolve to the new normal in the world today. Traveler’s Q can help you plan your event, contact us to get started.