inVOYAGE View: Now more than ever, event profs need to stick together

Unprecented. That’s the only word that can be used to describe the situation that people and businesses across not just the luxury events sector, but all industries around the globe, are currently facing.

It seems surreal that just a few short weeks ago, we were putting the finishing touches to our inVOYAGE Annual Report, which painted a rosy picture for 2020. Yes, there were challenges, but luxury event professionals were hugely positive about prospects for growth this year.

The coronavirus pandemic, which is spreading rapidly across the globe, has changed all that. Even in the last couple of weeks, the event industry’s rallying cries have shifted from keep calm and carry on meeting, to don’t cancel, postpone.

As governments across the world take extreme measures to stop the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable, from closing borders and ordering hotels, restaurants and public venues to shut, to complete lockdown, it is clear that travelling and meeting face to face is no longer the right and responsible thing to do.

Wherever possible, we should attempt to postpone rather than outright cancel Q1 and Q2 events. And in the meantime, if appropriate, we can help people meet and communicate virtually using technology.

The focus is on getting through this crisis, and now more than ever, event professionals need to stick together and support each other, albeit from afar.

As heart-warming stories of how people are going out of their way to help and support friends, neighbours and vulnerable people spread across social media, so too are stories of luxury travel and event companies doing their bit.

Roman Abramovich said he will accommodate NHS staff working in London hospitals at the Millennium hotel on Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium site as the club do their bit to help the response to the coronavirus pandemic at his own expense, while luxury London hotel, The Hari, is offering the services of staff to friends and neighbours in the community, from delivering shopping, a phone call, collecting supplies from the pharmacy or posting mail.

Some businesses are offering their services for free during this difficult time to keep staff busy. Myconian Collection, our inVOYAGE 2020 partner, and many luxury hotel companies are changing their cancellation terms and conditions to reduce the risk for planners and keep the bookings coming in. And #eventprofs are finding new ways to meet and support each other – Paul Fallows at Silversea Cruises is hosting a virtual coffee break for industry colleagues. People are pulling together and it’s these snippets of positivity that will help keep us all going. So please keep sharing your stories with us wherever you can. Please email me at susie@invoyage.net

There is light at the end of the tunnel, as it was revealed today that China reported no new domestic cases of coronavirus for first time since outbreak began, a major milestone in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

We will get through this. The luxury travel and events industry is resilient – we have survived 9/11, the global financial crash and volcanic ash clouds, and we will survive coronavirus! As we emerge from a period of social isolation, the value of live events will be more understood as people will be craving face to face interaction.

When the economy recovers after Covid-19, businesses will need events and incentives more than ever to communicate with, incentivise and reward their staff and customers.

The events industry will come back stronger and business is likely to return very quickly as companies will need support to deliver a huge variety of events from training and strategy meetings to conferences and incentives.

Our focus, as ever, remains on providing our inVOYAGE community of luxury event professionals with the opportunity to make meaningful connections, which will be even more crucial once this crisis has passed.

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