It is sometimes overwhelming to curate so much information, but our team has become very disciplined in compiling data from reliable sources that present a balanced view of what we can expect in the coming weeks and months. Here are a few recent observations on what the new normal might look like.
New Standard Operating Procedures
Hotels, venues, airlines, restaurants and attractions are all working diligently to establish cleaning and sanitation protocols for the purpose of guest health and safety. From my perspective, most public and private entities are viewing these new health and safety protocols as part of how we will all be doing business in the future as opposed to seeking a competitive advantage. In selling and marketing the destination, it is important for all of us who have direct customer contact to be able to communicate our community health and safety standards consistently to the customer. Moreover, our standards need to relate to national benchmarks. Customers will want a clear and consistent experience wherever they go. We have seen this, in the past, as a LEED certification or other environmental commitment strategies were once an option whereas now it is expected.
Renegotiating Live Event Agreements When All Parties Are Innocent Victims
Dave Lutz, CEO of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, recently published a blog by this same title. (Read it here.) One of his assertions is that neither suppliers nor customers are responsible for the present crisis. Both sides will need to collaborate more than ever in order to ensure the future viability of our industry. Suppliers and customers will have to work on suitable solutions to monumental issues such as how the increased expense associated with enhanced safety and sanitation protocols will be shared as well as where any liability for sickness lies.
Suppressed Room Block Pick Ups
Many regional and national association executives I have spoken to indicate that their events of the future will have a virtual component. As we have all become very adept at virtual meetings, it stands to reason that once we resume some semblance of normalcy, we will keep the virtual meeting option as an arrow in our quiver. For the meetings we’re working to attract, that means physical attendance numbers will likely not be the same as pre-COVID levels in the foreseeable future. We must adjust expectations accordingly.
Getting Back to Work
Nationally, frontline travel and hospitality worker unemployment is as much as 50%. However, as dire as our present situation is, we will need to eventually reengage with these professionals who literally help us keep the promises we make to our customers. One aspect of this crisis is that many of these frontline employees are persons of color and other groups that have been impacted disproportionately by COVID economically and in their health and well-being. We must consider what can we do to accommodate the needs of these workers and demonstrate their value to our economy.
Our Meet Minneapolis team will continue to aggregate and disseminate the relevant market intelligence you need to make sound decisions. But we also urge you to share any non-competitive information you encounter that might allow us to better serve you and your fellow stakeholders. And please be sure to make plans to participate in our upcoming webinar “COVID-19 Impact & Meet Minneapolis Recovery Planning: The State of Tourism and Hospitality in Minneapolis.” Thank you again for your partnership.