COVID-19 has had an incredible impact across our nation and the meetings industry was among the first to be impacted. Major meetings cancellations were some of the initial effects the United States began to see upon the onset of the coronavirus. These changes had industry professionals across the nation with the question of, “Now What?” regarding their events. Here you’ll find ideas on what to do regarding your meetings market in the now, how to continue to recraft your meetings brand as meeting planners continue to think about the future and links to resources from major tourism industry players.
The full outcome of the coronavirus effect on the meetings industry is still difficult to predict but, we’ve pulled together some ideas based on what data shows the meetings market comeback will look like and how it will come back and better than ever.
- Think Locally: data shows that travelers and consumers are going to first focus on traveling locally or within a comfortable drive radius. This gives opportunity in the meetings market more locally. Consider tailoring your focus on local and drive time businesses for company retreats, off-site meetings. These smaller events will be more agile and capable of rebooking/rescheduling than larger association type events. This will help your local hospitality partners while hopefully encouraging some hotel bookings.
- Keep Engaging: Continue or re-engage with the meetings market showcasing the benefits of planning an event in your destination. Check out How Successful Meeting Planners Research a Destination for more! These events generally have a much longer planning process, so it’s important to continue to stay top of mind. If paid media isn’t an option during this time be sure to continue to engage with your curated audience through eNewletters and social media.
- Craft the Right Message: Time seems to be something most of us aren’t generally used to having in excess. We recommend taking this time to focus on your meeting’s message and how you’ll reach the best audience once this coronavirus dust has settled. Here are some helpful links to start thinking about correct messaging and marketing so you can be prepared when the time is right:
Audit or ReCraft Your Message.
There are likely core strengths that your destination has that have been not changed due to the coronavirus. This time provides the opportunity to reevaluate your strengths and consider crafting your recovery response around those. We know that the best messaging to meeting planners should take them on a journey by focusing on your destination’s core strengths like; geographic location, quality of hotels, destination amenities, walkability, and weather.
Destination Attributes Important to Planners
Take a look at your current messaging strategy and ask yourself if it takes your intended audience on the best possible journey of your destination:
- Are your images engaging correctly?
- Are you showcasing things to do during their downtime?
- What else is there to do outside of the primary area?
- Does your creative messaging have a clear and correct call to action?
- Are you showcasing large groups in your creative? Perhaps a shift towards more outdoor images/lesser crowds will help planners feel more comfortable.
Orange142 is an industry leader in the meetings + conventions market and would be happy to help with developing and implementing these strategies.
Connect with Your Stakeholders.
These partners are often our most valuable resource and during times of turmoil even more so. Connect with you local stakeholders to get a pulse on their current state. They are the lifeblood of any destination and should be utilized as partners in your recovery strategies. Consider creating a private Facebook Group to share ideas and local impacts, provide a survey to gauge their needs, host a webinar/roundtable or any other ideas that may help to bring a collaborative voice and empower them as a group.
Industry Links + Resources.
Here you’ll find a list of industry links to help stay up to date on how COVID-19 is affecting the travel, tourism and meetings industries:
Brand USA – Here you’ll find information on Brand USA’s COVID-19 related market activity updates.
Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) – Interim guidance from the CDC specifically regarding mass gatherings and large events.
Destinations International (DI) – Accurate, up-to-date information as it pertains to the effects of coronavirus on the travel, tourism and meetings industry.
US Travel Association – Find up to date information on the COVID-19 CARES Act Relief
US Department of State – Get information on all travel advisories and alerts
PCMA – Coronavirus News & Resources for Business Event Industry
STR Webinar – Impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the U.S. hotel industry
John Hopkins Coronavirus Tracker – Update to date tracking of the pandemic on a worldwide view.
Orange142 COVID-19 Toolkit – Here you’ll find detailed information from the Orange142 team around how to best market + message during and post COVID-19.
We are here.
If you have questions or need help implementing any of the above suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact our team here at Orange142. We are a group of experts in the meetings market with robust experience in emergency response marketing efforts and we are here to help.