Brian Sullivan is anchor of CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange and senior national correspondent for the network. While he recently made five predictions for 2021 through the lens of the financial market, what he sees in his crystal ball gives the face-to-face events industry reason for optimism.
Every hotel room in Vegas will be sold out over a weekend by September. “The world will emerge from our collective Covid crisis slowly at first, but once it is clear a majority of the most vulnerable are protected (April?), expect to see the beginning of a boom in consumption and excess” in the second half of 2021, he writes, unlike “anything we’ve seen in 100 years.” “[P]andemic history suggests experiences will trump stuff, and that money will shift to getting out — what I’ve only half-jokingly called the ‘GOAT’ trade on CNBC (get out and travel).”
Popular air fares will more than double by July 4. Although United has recently said it doesn’t see a clear indication demand will spike, Sullivan thinks otherwise, based on stats that “more than a million people per day are already flying again on some days, even as Covid cases explode.” Sullivan writes: “There is a ‘lockdown fatigue’ that we can see ending before our eyes. Americans want to fly. Airlines, still shell-shocked from 2020, will be slow to add capacity back to the market. It will also take time to get them out of desert storage and ready to fly again. Higher demand for fewer seats on the most popular routes should mean sky-high ticket prices.”
Again, Sullivan makes his predictions with an eye on the stock market — his last one is that the best-performing health-care investments will focus on the next crisis: obesity. “Lockdowns, lack of sports, and a fast-food boom may fuel an even greater obesity crisis than the one America is already facing,” he writes. “Companies who deal with weight loss or weight management, diabetes or other similar medical issues will sadly see a boom.”
If that is true, then there will most certainly be a corresponding push for a return to health and wellness. What could that mean for in-person and digital events going forward? Baking wellness initiatives into in-person and digital event programs, like sponsored runs and walks and guided exercise and meditation breaks, and for in-person events, a greater emphasis on healthy F&B.
Michelle Russell is editor in chief at Convene.