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Published on : Friday, May 6, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic created great havoc in meetings and incentive travel industry globally. Now this industry is working hard to move and regenerate revenue like before.
The gradual spreading of coronavirus in 2020 and 2021 made a new and puzzling phenomenon in the business world, where businesses, and for a time the country’s economy, had taken an abrupt but massive hit, instead of the lengthy but manageable loss we’ve seen in past economic downturns.
But we can still look at the 2007-2008 Great Recessions for a small peek into the road to recovery and how meeting planners coped with the economic downturn.
Here is a discussion about how the MICE industry is gradually progressing in the midst of Russia-Ukraine Conflict and post pandemic travel time.
Normal or New Normal
The hospitality and hotel industry has suffered a lot during pandemic. This time, we have entered in “new normal”. Sanitizing, wearing mask and social distancing are our main criteria. Our lives have changed. The industry has closed for many days. Now, the industry leaders are hoping that the MICE tourism can regenerate more revenue towards the development of country.
“The biggest question will be what is normal? All our lives have transformed and changed over the last 2 years. Australia has been in isolation from the rest of the world for a long time and we are now only seeing the border reopen to the world.
The industry on a whole has been affected by the closures and we have seen a great deal of pain and suffering among our colleagues. However, we are all a very resilient group and I think we are now starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, soon travelers will be returning to our shores.
Australia has always been a destination that is high on people’s bucket list and I feel that we will see great demand for Australia. Capella Sydney will offer the most amazing curated stay; we will introduce travel experience to Sydney in a way that has not been done before.”
— Marc von Arnim, General Manager of Capella Sydney
“The entire Asia-Pacific region has suffered during the pandemic with restriction being placed across all areas. With borders opening up in numerous countries in the region we will start to see travel increases throughout this year. There is no better time to travel within Asia-Pacific with all hotels and tourism operators ready and waiting to show the best on offer.
Meetings and incentive travel has always been a great source of business for the entire region, I think now is as good a time as any to travel as most destinations have extensive measures in place to ensure safe travel for their clients. It is all about building confidence in the market and demonstrating that travel is safe and comfortable”.
Ease of Restrictions
The meetings and event industry has seen worse hit during pandemic. Maria Polkovnikova, Marketing Director of ITECA says while sharing her views on ITECA’s marketing strategies post-pandemic and its future plans for boosting MICE tourism industry with Travel And Tour World, it is a complicated thing to organize any event or seminar or meetings in grand scale.
“The event industry is one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, so we have been forced to reschedule many of our events and reduce the number of employees. Even after the easing of restrictions and obtaining official permission to hold exhibitions, it was not easy for us to resume our activities. But we managed it.
Since ITECA did not stop working for a day, we regularly called up partners and colleagues, held small online events to resolve common issues.
Additionally, we have updated all our resources and added information about the work of exhibitions in the post-pandemic period, but in general, the preparation process has not changed much.”
——– Maria Polkovnikova, Marketing Director of ITECA
Windows of Opportunity
In post COVID-19 time, MICE industry can see a window of many opportunities. New technological changes are made to host a secured and safe hybrid or on-site meetings or events.
“In 2019, the World Trade Center Moscow Congress Center partnered with the National Convention Bureau to attract international events to the venue, and secured long-term projects that in development through 2025. During the pandemic, most of the projects were halted, so we then decided to focus on the domestic market, and strengthen hybrid and online/virtual activities.
“The Government of the Russian Federation has set a course to increase the share of the creative economy in the country’s GDP, and the support and development of creative industries, cultural initiatives, business and event tourism throughout the regions of Russia. From these initiatives, the event industry will have serious potential for growth. I would like to note that currently, the market is unstable and develops in waves. All this is due to an increase of COVID-19 cases and the risk of additional restrictive measures in Moscow, transferring employees of large companies to remote work to minimise in-person contact.”
“The market immediately responds to cancellations of events, even if no new restrictions are implemented, and is actively discussed in mass media. To date, Moscow continues to have restrictions on the number of participants in mass events – such as enforcing that the occupancy of congress halls are limited to no more than 50% of the capacity, and that QR codes for proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test are required for visitors to events. There are also requirements to equip the venue with security measures. Taking into consideration the restrictions and partial occupancy of congress halls, customers are forced to look for more spacious halls than previously required.
As for the World Trade Center Moscow Congress Center, some months during the pandemic have turned out to be even more profitable than in 2019 as they presented “windows of opportunity” to resume projects, while some months were characterised by massive cancellations or postponements of events to later dates.
In 2022, the recovery of the MICE industry after COVID-19 is slow and according to forecasts by the AIPC, ICCA and RUEF, structural changes will occur over the next 2-3 years, and the industry will grow to pre-pandemic levels by 2025.”
——————————————— Daria Salamatova, Head of the Department of Congress Activities and Business Development, World Trade Center (WTC) Moscow (Russia).