Nearly half of planner respondents to the most-recent PCMA COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard survey said their biggest financial challenge with regard to planning a business event in 2021 has to do with, no surprise, dealing with future uncertainties: how to budget in terms of in-person attendance expectations.
That challenge has come up regularly during client engagement calls Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) has been having with 1,000 participants each week during the COVID-19 crisis, according to ALHI’s vice president of marketing, Jennifer Duffy. The dialogue, she said, has centered on their two burning questions: What am I going to do about meeting attendance and attrition? How can we get back to business safely?
For that first question, for the rest of this year, more than 125 ALHI member hotels are offering up to 50-percent attrition on rooms and F&B for new business booked and arriving by December 31, 2020.
As for the question of the safe return of events, the company has published a resource for planners, ALHI Back to Business Travel Safety Guidelines. The PDF is a compilation of safety measures not only being taken at ALHI’s member hotels, but also by airlines, airports, and “touchpoints across the travel experience.” The resource is continually being updated as new information becomes available.
The easy-to-digest, checklist-style guide was created in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association, Delos, and Steelcase, and covers the precautions the airlines — according to individual carrier — are taking, TSA practices, and protocols hotels are putting in place for public spaces, guest rooms, convention spaces, and back of house. In addition, the resource includes a page on design considerations of social distancing, such as room sets with seating at 90-degree angles to prevent attendees from facing directly across or behind one another. It seems that even the terminology “face-to-face events” may need revising in the time of COVID-19.