Disruption in the MICE industry: The challenges caused by COVID-19
While hotels and other tourism sectors slowly show signs of recovery, COVID-19 has perhaps taken the largest toll on the MICE industry which is expected to show even a more tempered come-back. The present crisis will also change how this industry works and conducts its business. In collaboration with Toleranca Marketing and based on various surveys they have conducted between March to June 2020, we take a brief and critical look at what the new normal will be for the MICE industry.
The present crisis raises several questions. When is it going to be safe to schedule the next event? When will the MICE industry recover from the corona crisis? What is going to be the “new normal”?
The concerning aspect is that nobody has the right answer to these and other questions which creates a high level of uncertainty concerning the future development of the industry.
At the same time, the present situation avails the opportunity to turn marketing and sales upside down and implement new communication, technology and sales solutions. Understanding the importance of communication and excellent client relations will play a key role in a successful recovery strategy.
We must admit ourselves that the MICE industry was in a weakened state even before it was stopped by COVID-19. The sector was strained by many events, not really satisfied participants, copied concepts, problems with guaranteeing attendance and questionable ROI. It is hard to shed the feeling that some events were organised just for the sake of being organised. It is time to think about what kind of events we really want to create. The situation gives us an opportunity to change the old habits and initiate a spring cleaning.
It will take some time until the restrictions will be relaxed enough that many of the planned events may even actually happen. Some of the first live events are being organised again. COVID-19 is a trigger for a complete digitalisation of the meetings industry. Marketing activities in the future will be much more digitally focused. It is the right time to update the websites, to define content marketing strategies, improve social media presence, to edit the databases and to explore and test new technology.
We all miss live events and currently the biggest challenge is to rebuild trust. Many of us are sceptical of the supposed virtual future. A good mixture or hybrid form between virtual and live formats is perhaps the recipe for the future. Personal and innate needs for socialising and building relationships will never be replaced by technology. Nevertheless, some people would like to avoid social contact and that must be taken in to account. Services like live streaming, video production and high-speed internet connectivity will have to be raised to a higher level.
The pandemic will leave a deep scar. Social distancing has become the new norm, and a globalised market has become regionalised overnight. Choosing a destination for events will change. The use of social media skyrocketed, and a completely new sales channel has developed. The destinations will have to reinvent themselves and adapt to it with personalised, non-generic marketing. The so-called second-tier destinations have a great chance to take advantage of the situation by being able to manage health risks more easily.
Events which have been so far of purely local significance, suddenly have a tremendous opportunity to expand and attract participants from all over the world just by using technological solutions. On the other hand, some of the leading events could simply lose stature in their importance and even disappear.
A report with the results of the various surveys conducted by Toleranca Marketing may be downloaded here.
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