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How Pent-up Travel Demand and Reduced Staffing Will Affect Your Next Meeting.

Be prepared for a shift in mindset and in time planning for your next live event.

While we ALL have been a wait and see mode for travel restriction updates and new regulations on large gatherings, the hotels and event venues have been dealing with an entire different set of issues.

Your next event will be affected by demand and very low staffing levels.

You may be one of the organizations impacted by having to cancel your event. You are not alone. In 2020 and 2021 thousands of events were canceled and many have shifted into the end of 2021 and into 2022.

What does that mean for you and your event?

If you have not already found and contracted your venue for 2021 or 2022 program you may already be very limited on options.

Even though we are all ready to travel again and a lot of hotels and venues are back open that doesn’t mean the staffing levels are back to what we would expect. This is especially noticeable in sales and catering teams.

The lack of staffing has created a big change in the site selection, proposal, and contracting timeline process. If you are like my clients and accustomed to getting a full comparison report of hotels and proposals in 48 hours well let me warn you now to reset your expectations. Be prepared to build in more time for finding the right venue and everything that follows. Sales teams of 15 or 30 people were scaled back to 1 to 5 people. And although staff is being brought back as we speak, there is still a large gap for the group business support.

How does this affect you?

It means we are all excited to get back to live events but we need to be aware of what the planning and communication process looks like and be prepared to set different expectations not only for ourselves, but for all who we serve as we transition out of the pandemic and back into live events.

My goal for this post is to share what I am experiencing and offer 3 tips that can help you as you plan for your first live event, conference, or incentive trip.

1. Reevaluate your size. And then do it again.

First, think about the size of your event and if you need to reevaluate the total attendance and footprint.

  • How has your target attendee been affected by the pandemic?

  • How has their role or industry changes?

  • Will this affect their budget or ability to travel?

I recommend sending attendees a poll or short survey as soon as possible!

This has been very affective for my clients to understand what to expect and have the data to make the best decisions. We have even sent out polls to sponsors, exhibitors and content experts that typically speak to ensure we have a full overview in order to better plan the event and prepare for finding the right venue.

2. Build in more time. Seriously!

If you haven’t already been planning for live events this year be prepared for things to take a lot longer. Not just for getting proposals, but for contract negotiations, menus, AV information, hotel registration, and more.

Because of the low staffing in many hotels, the sales and catering team members you are working with is currently covering 2 to 10 other people’s jobs right now. They are burnt out and overworked.

If you can build in more time now, everyone will be able to do a better job TOGETHER.

3. Ask for help.

If you haven’t spent the entire past year updating your hotel and venue contact lists every few weeks be prepared to spend hours trying to find the right contact and also wait a while for a response once you have found them.

This is where using a site sourcing company or partner like me can be very beneficial. Even if you have done your own sourcing and contracting for years things have changed. It is a lot harder to get a responses from hotels as well as convention partners, transportation companies and DMCs.

As a partner with HPN Global we have been keeping records of staffing changes and new contacts to thousands of hotels, cities and support service companies so we can get responses for our clients.

If you are used to doing everything alone, think about reaching out for support. We all need more time and help this year.

BONUS TIP: Be Kind. Together we are better.

I added this bonus tip, not just for you, but for me.

Relationships really do matter. The entire hospitality industry has been suffering for over a year. Many have been laid off, changed roles, lost friends, and have not had any time off or vacation this year. We are all adapting and learning with the overwhelming amounts of information and changes to travel and safety.

I am so thankful for my clients and partners. With a little extra kindness, we can all bring back live events better!

If you need a friend who can help you navigate through the processes and fun new contract terms let us know. We would love to help. If we don’t have the solutions you are looking for, we just may know who would be a great resource.


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