According to the Destination Analysts’ Meetings Research Study, which surveyed 300 meeting and event planners in June 2020, planners are looking to CVBs and destinations as resources more than ever. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed planners said they agree or strongly agree that CVBs should continue to market their destination throughout 2020; even more, 76 percent, consider it valuable when they publish hotel availability.
“It’s clear that the majority of meeting planners want to work with CVBs right now,” said Erin Francis-Cummings, president and CEO of the market research company, in a video recap of the study. And the areas they need help with are quite varied. The majority of planners said they need help visualizing social distancing at local venues along with local safety and cleaning protocols; but half of those surveyed also agreed that they need assistance with pivoting to a virtual or hybrid format. Materials and ideas to make the virtual event experience feel like it’s live ranked high on their list.
Most respondents — which included corporate, association, and third-party planners from all parts of the U.S. — reported having either canceled their planned 2020 events or rescheduled them for 2021 or later. Many of those who do still have live programs on the books for 2020 plan to include a virtual component of some kind. Right now, “meeting planners welcome (some even say are desperate for!) DMO support on virtual and hybrid events,” Francis-Cummings said.
To planners, the best destination partners will remain flexible and help them navigate the challenges of canceling and rebooking. “CVBs could help us most by facilitating negotiations between planners and hotels in their cities. Make it easier for us to re-book current business. Having them at the table to help would be instrumental,” one respondent said. “CVBs need to do more than just market their destinations, I need them to connect the dots between me and the providers in their city,” said another. “Also, if they can look at their book of business that is upcoming and be more proactive about connecting with planners and offering help with re-bookings, etc. It sometimes feels like we are out here on our own right now.”
Jennifer N. Dienst is managing editor at Convene.