What will the future hold for meetings and events?
By: Kathryn Gleesing, MBA, CMP, DMCP
President & CEO – Dm-Connection & Events
I have thought a lot about this since the pandemic hit and the only thing, I am confident about is that there will never be a ‘normal'. This devastating virus has forever changed the world, some ways for the worse, some ways for the better.
Its forced business owners to make very tough decisions that ultimately meant people lost their jobs. Hotels and restaurants closed their doors, hopefully only temporarily. Most states imposed stay at home orders and face to face meetings were either postponed or canceled. Zoom and Skype became ways to stay in touch with family members, co-workers, clients and friends.
The pandemic has been compared to 9/11 and the economic crisis in 2008 in both instances the meeting industry suffered. According to DMAI, It took 54 months after 9/11 for hotels to regain occupancy and 48 months after the economic crisis in 2008.
According to Oxford Economics, for the week of April 4, 2020, the nation suffered an $18.6 billion loss on travel compared to 2019.
If a vaccine is found which will eradicate the virus, then the economy could rebound sooner. In case this is still 12-24 months away, then we must be prepared for a shift in how we plan, prepare and host meetings and events in these unchartered waters.
The Switch to Virtual
The first reaction to staying relevant for companies in the meetings industry was to still stay in touch with employees and clients in addition to their family members. This was accomplished through platforms like Zoom, Skype, GoToMeetings, etc.
Webinars have become the best way to provide information in short bursts to online audiences. MPI held it is first ever GIRD conference and set a world’s record for having over 13,000 people on a webinar. People are craving for information in these times of uncertainty and they want to stay in touch with people, although virtually right now.
What will come back first?
Leisure travel is expected to come back first, people would rather drive a short distance to visit with family or friends. According to Longwoods International survey, 88% are planning to travel within six months. 64% are planning leisure trips. Weddings and leisure travel will resume which will drive hotel bookings. Individuals traveling for their company will also resume. Large meetings and conventions will take much longer to rebound.
Companies are all scrambling to assess how to do business once stay at home orders are lifted. Time will tell, once thing is certain, people will crave face to face interaction and will use meetings to learn, network and stay educated in their industries.
What will face to face meetings look like?
Meetings will look a lot different, more space between attendees and hand sanitizing stations being very visible.
Air travel may look different, some airlines are considering not filling the middle seats and others may require passengers to wear masks.
Ground transportation will also be impacted, loading buses at 50% capacity, which could also be like restaurant seating.
Hotels are outlining their cleaning protocols to include a more intense deep cleaning between guests. Machines that emit UV rays to kill bacteria will be used more frequently also ionizers. Cities will continue to offer virtual site visits for planners to make the best use of your time.
Planners will need to be creative when it comes to exhibit halls, this could be done virtually or in-person through pre-set meetings, so attendance is limited in the booth area. Incorporate a health and wellness component to the hall, including infrared temperature scans for all attendees.
No more food buffets in the near future, either box lunches, plated meals or custom food stations where food is served to attendees by gloved servers. Its coffee to go stations where its poured upon demand or ordering online to have it delivered to your seat in the convention hall. That feature is currently in use in arenas through a mobile app.
Evening receptions and parties where guests have space to roam and not be confined within four walls will be the norm, more use of outside spaces is what I predict.
Appetizers maybe displayed behind plastic shields where guests no longer can graze, rather food attendants will select their food and hand it to the guest, again customizing and providing the attendee a different experience.
Virtual team building sessions are already being promoted for companies that would like to engage their staff. Virtual cooking classes or hands on activities where attendees can watch and grow could become an attractive option for tours. Some tour companies are already offering virtual tours to showcase a city.
Your local DMC professional will be your best resource when navigating face to face meetings again. We have been in contact with vendors to find the best solutions that will keep your attendees safe and your meeting successful.
How long will this go on? It is unknown, at least until the virus is contained or a vaccine is found. There is a lesson we can all learn from this and that is how quickly we adapted to change and found work arounds to continue conducting business. This is short term but necessary to get us through the pandemic.
The one item that remains constant is that people need human interaction and face to face meetings will return.
It is no longer thinking outside the box that applies here, its thinking beyond four walls and the safety of attendees at future face to face meetings.
The Democratic National Convention has been rescheduled for the week of August 17, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here is a link to the DNC webpage with their statement regarding the rescheduled convention.
Businesses all over the country have been affected by the coronavirus. Some businesses in Milwaukee had to quickly find a new way to earn income. One of those companies is Milwaukee Food Tours. They are well known in the community for their food tours from pizza, fish fry's and custard. When the meeting and leisure traveler stopped booking tours because of the coronavirus, the company had to find a new way to help stay afloat. Theresa Nemetz, Founder and Chief Experience Officer offered up Shelter In Style kits. They combined a lot of the food offerings from their tours and packaged them into a subscription service. You can check out the different offerings on their website.
Whether you are craving pretzels, chocolate, coffee or cupcakes, you can order them for your staff or send them to a loved one who could use something fun each week. They deliver them in the Milwaukee area and are left on your doorstep, no need to come in contact with anyone (social distancing orders are still in force). The kits can also be shipped anywhere.What a fun way to support local Milwaukee businesses and enjoy some delicious treats! Enjoy!
In a recent article in Meetings Today, Milwaukee is dubbed as a rising destination in 2020. In part due to the high-profile events the city will be hosting: Democratic National Convention July 13-16 in Milwaukee and the Ryder Cup September 25-27 in Kohler, Wisconsin. Milwaukee has been trending on Airbnb as well as featured in Forbes List of 25 Best Places to Visit in 2020. New developments and infrastructure changes are going on in the city to keep Milwaukee an attractive option for convention and leisure guests.. Check out the entire article here.
Fiserv Forum is a state of the art 714,000 square foot arena located in the hub of entertainment in downtown Milwaukee. Not only is Fiserv Forum home of the Milwaukee Bucks, it also has outdoor plaza space and sweeping views both into the bowl and out to the city throughout the interior. You can plan a board meeting in the North Suite while overlooking downtown Milwaukee. Fiserv Forum offers a variety of top-notch meeting spaces within the arena so your group can host an upscale VIP party for 450 of your top clients in the Panorama Club, Hold a sales presentation for 100 in the West Bend Lofts and then include an option for additional guests to watch the game afterwards. Northwestern Mutual Club lounge, the Mezzanine Club and the BMO Club all offer different, upscale experiences for your guests. The Main Concourse can hold 1,000 for a reception, all with access to a world-class culinary team to make your event special. Here is a link to all the private event spaces at Fiserv Forum.
#fiservforum #milwaukeebucks #visitmilwaukee #eventprofs
Milwaukee is home to Coakley Brothers who specialize in residential and commercial moving since 1888. Their Water Tower Building is located in the heart of Walker's Point neighborhood. I discovered another hidden gem within their office building which is unique (rentable) meeting space. The office has two wings of meeting space on opposite sides of the building. A training room that holds up to 100 people theater style and a conference room that accommodates 16 people. They also have a showroom that can be used for reception style events and generous outdoor space complete with a gas fire pit, café lighting and games. The space has cream city brick walls, beautiful wooden floors, an abundance of windows and garage doors that allow attendees outside access during breaks. You can visit their website to obtain more information about booking this unique space.
#eventprofs #visitmilwaukee #uniquemeetingspaces #coakleybrothers
Dm-Connection & Events was interviewed by a freelance journalist who was writing an article about unusual meeting venues. Milwaukee was selected and they wrote about a recent event we did for a client at The Garden. Here an excerpt from the article: “Milwaukee is a very affordable and accessible destination and is centrally located within a day’s drive of 1/3 of the U.S. population,” Gleesing says. “Milwaukee provides great value for your meeting dollar with hotel, food and beverage, and top-notch entertainment options, for attendees.
“The venue was chosen because my client wanted a unique space for a reception with the option to take attendees to a restaurant close by. This venue and restaurant are owned by the same group, so it worked out well for the private event. The space has a floor-to-ceiling sculpture and a lighting system that will turn the sculpture into any color for the event. In this case, my client wanted a gold tone look to complement the decor we selected for the evening reception.”
Once you choose a venue, Gleesing advises planners to work with local experts who know the city, including a preferred catering vendor. “They know the venue well and can be a great resource for your event,” she says.
You can read the entire article here.
The new ballpark name will be called American Family Field in an announcement yesterday from American Family Insurance. The new name will take effect January 1, 2021. According to Jack Salzwedel, American Family chair and chief executive officer, “The name is short, simple and sweet with its alliteration of ‘family’ and ‘field’. The words ‘American Family’ capture our brand and reflect the family-orientated atmosphere that our research showed fans clearly value in the ballpark.”
The report goes on to mention that In addition to the renaming of the ballpark in Milwaukee, American Family also acquired naming rights to the Brewers spring training complex in Maryvale, Arizona. The complex, which completed an extensive renovation last year, is being renamed American Family Fields of Phoenix.
#visitmilwaukee #milwaukeebrewers #americanfamilyfield
Photo credit: Visit Milwaukee
Many businesses have been waiting to see if they will be in the security perimeter that will exist during the Democratic National Convention, July 13-16 in Milwaukee. Officials released the security perimeter today. They also stated that no businesses would be forced to close as a result of this secured area. The area below outlined in orange is the secured perimeter.
It's that time of the year when Cafe Benelux unveils the Ice Bars in Milwaukee. This will be done in conjunction with Gallery Night which opens on Friday, January 17 in the trendy Third Ward. According to a recent news report by Fox 6, 'A large bar and throne made of ice will be installed by Art Below Zero in front of Café Benelux on North Broadway'. Here is a link to Gallery Night so you can check out all the galleries that are participating and other activities going on in the Third Ward.
something to think about...
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