We at Tomilli had the opportunity to speak with Rafael Hernández, Chairman of the World Meetings Forum (WMF) about his three day event in Los Cabos, Mexico as part of the reactivation of meeting tourism, and this is what he told us:
Why take a risk on the reopening of events without having a clear outlook on Covid-19?
Primarily because of economic concerns surrounding the conference meeting industry; while we are aware that things are still not safe at this time and that we cannot say with any certainty that that virus has been eradicated, we have to realize that we still face another six or seven months of this.
How do you draw the attention of event attendees in the face of the fear and uncertainty that are still present in relation to the Coronavirus?
What everyone wants today is security and tranquility; this is what people are looking for wherever they go, whether it be a hotel, a restaurant or a relative’s house. It has already been demonstrated that hotels, airports, transporters and convention centers have structure in place for biosecurity processes and protocols. What we added to this process was a key ingredient, other than testing and screening, where all the event attendees responded to a series of questionnaires that allowed them to identify their risk of contagion. We also provided rapid tests before and throughout the event.
Where can event organizers consult the biosecurity protocols?
Our executive director, Linda Garzón and the WMF team was tasked with compiling different “best practices” manuals from the global tourism association, the OMC, the OMS, UFI and all of the associations that issue their manual. What we did on the WMF team was create our own manual to implement at the event and make it available to all attendees on our website.
We know that many events have migrated to digital. Isn’t there a concern that this will continue to be a trend and that meeting tourism will be affected in the future?
As an immediate reaction, it has been the correction solution, but everyone knows that a digital meeting is not the same as an in-person meeting. What we just had was a hybrid event, because we had people who participated digitally that were unable to attend in-person due to border closures, but they still had the option of being present to hear the speakers give the conferences online.
Hybrid events will continue to be a trend, however, we will surely see that in-person events reinforce the experience of being there, digital events have been given due to the circumstance and we are grateful for the technology that allows us to communicate, but people are tired of Webinars and of virtual meetings. People want to meet up and do business.