Meetings Mean Business reports that a new survey by APCO Insight suggests that American workers, particularly those who attended in-person meetings and conventions before the COVID-19 pandemic, are eager to return to them when the virus is contained and physical distancing policies are no longer needed.
“Communities across the U.S. have been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we do not take the impact of this crisis lightly,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company and co-chair of Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC). “However, it’s encouraging to see that 83 percent of Americans currently forced to work from home say they miss attending in-person meetings and conventions. As important, 78 percent say they plan to attend as many or more when the threat of COVID-19 passes and it is safe to do so.”
Dixon adds that the research sends a critical message to U.S. federal legislators and administration officials as they consider ways to bring relief to the 5.9 million Americans whose jobs are supported by the meetings and conventions.
In a matter of weeks, the spread of the virus and the necessary lockdown measures around the world to contain it resulted in thousands of conferences, conventions, tradeshows, incentive travel programs and other face-to-face business events being postponed or cancelled. Recent estimates from the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, predict an unprecedented impact on the MICE industry, which faces losses seven times greater than 9/11 due to the pandemic.
However, the survey showed that 49 percent of Americans agreed when asked if convention centers and event venues should be eligible for federal support and funding. Only 14 percent disagreed, whether they previously attended in-person meetings and conventions as part of their jobs, or not. The percent who agreed is roughly on par with other industries that rely on in-person activities, such as the restaurant industry (53 percent); personal services such as barbers and hair salons (44 percent); and grocery stores (43 percent).
“Even as meetings are being cancelled and business travel is postponed, this research proves what many of us have long suspected to be true,” said Trina Camacho-London, vice-president of Global Group Sales at Hyatt Hotels Corporation and MMBC co-chair. “Our collective experience of physical distancing has us craving the day that we can all come together again and meet in person. That’s a strong indicator of not only consumer intent but also of our industry’s value to people, businesses and communities.”
According to Camacho-London, the industry, led by MMBC, is committed to helping meeting and event professionals navigate the COVID-19 crisis and “come back stronger.”
“In lockstep with organizations across the globe, we are pursuing every opportunity to bring economic relief and inspire industry advocates to continue local acts of service—from donating food and health supplies to venue space and funds for community-based organizations. In these challenging times, no act is too small. We urge everyone who is able to commit to taking action, sharing information and advancing best practices.”
About the survey
On April 3, 2020, APCO Insight, the research division of APCO Worldwide, conducted an online quantitative survey among 1,000 American adults to understand the social impact of COVID-19. Their work is based on a national sample provided by Dynata, balanced by age, gender and region. For more information visit https://apcoworldwide.com/coronavirus.