We Need Our Associations, We Need One Another
As a motivational speaker on resilient associations, I was naturally interested in the 2022 Global Meetings and Event Forecast as reported on November 9, 2021 by Janeen Christoff for American Express Travel. Some numbers that came out from the forecast were that:
“Two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents believe in-person meeting levels will return to their pre-pandemic numbers within one to two years…Eighty-one percent of events taking place in 2022 are expected to have at least an in-person component…(and) budgets are also increasing for events with 64 percent of respondents indicating that they are boosting their budgets.”
This is Good News, right?
On the surface, the numbers certainly look impressive. Associations and meeting venues, essentially shut down from late 2019 to the last part of 2021, are slowly stirring back to life. However, we shouldn’t assume it will be business as usual. Habits, especially habits borne out of fear, won’t be broken without effort.
The key word in the questions asked in the forecast above was “comfort.” For example, the 67 percent who answered they believe in-person meetings will return to pre-pandemic levels were gauged as to their comfort levels that it would be possible.
There is more than a subtle difference in believing an in-person meeting could take place and having the comfort to attend that event.
If we assume that COVID-19 will continue to go from pandemic to endemic (much like the flu) and the levels of COVID-19 transmission continue to decline, will the meetings and associations industry magically recover? I think not. As with any other virus, we can expect subvariants to pop up, possible, annual vaccines, and changes in rules for travel, masks, social distancing and the like. For the shorter term, we will all need resilience to bridge the gap from belief to actual comfort.
What will it take?
I am not a gloom and doom type person; I believe in knowing facts and working to our fullest potentials to do as much as possible to bring about positive outcomes. Let’s continue to remember this clearly isn’t the worst of the 2020 lockdown. We are all figuring things out. The virus will do what viruses do, but so will medical science and research. We’ve got this.
I do trust that there will be a major percentage of association meetings that will be in person. Will it be 81 percent? Higher? Lower? No one knows for certain. What we do know is that we have seen the worst of it, and we have made tremendous strides.
How then, do we match up our resilient mindset with the realities of calming fears, changing rules and restrictions? What will it take? It will take a determined, laser-focused effort on the part of the meetings industry to practice resilience instead of panic, vision rather than a murky, gloomy outlook and the daily application, the grit of honesty and truth over worry and fear.
The meetings industry must exercise tremendous communications skills in the months ahead. Associations must work on being more transparent and dedicated to truth than any other organizations associated with meetings. We must be transparent, open, honest and tough in regard to any obstacles in our way.
Our memberships want normalcy (the research clearly shows that). We can meet their desires if we are determined to honor and support everyone in an atmosphere of resilience no matter what we face.
To book Scott Burrows, Motivational Resilience Speaker for Associations, contact him through this website or contact his office at: (520) 548-1169