With more than 300 million Americans under stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), many are now required to work from home and avoid all non-essential business travel. In a matter of weeks, thousands of conferences, conventions, trade shows and other face-to-face business events have been postponed or cancelled. Recent estimates from the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, predict an unprecedented impact to the meetings and travel industry, which faces losses seven times greater than 9/11 due to the pandemic.
A new survey by APCO Insight suggests that American workers—particularly those who attended in-person meetings and conventions before the pandemic—are eager to return to them when COVID-19 is contained and physical distancing policies are no longer needed.
“Communities across the U.S. have been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we do not take the impact of this crisis lightly,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC), in a statement. “However, it’s encouraging to see that 83 percent of Americans currently forced to work from home say they miss attending in-person meetings and conventions. As important, 78 percent say they plan to attend as many or more when the threat of COVID-19 passes and it is safe to do so.”
Regarding the new phases of the coronavirus recovery bill, APCO Insight reports that, when asked if convention centers and event venues should be eligible for federal support and funding, 49 percent of Americans agreed and only 14 percent disagreed. The percent who agreed is roughly on par with other industries that rely on in-person activities, such as the restaurant industry (53 percent support); personal services such as barbers and hair salons (44 percent); and grocery stores (43 percent).
Trina Camacho-London, VP of global group sales at Hyatt Hotels Corporation and MMBC co-chair, said “This research proves what many of us have long suspected to be true: Our collective experience of physical distancing has us craving the day that we can all come together again and meet in person. That’s a strong indicator of not only consumer intent, but also of our industry’s value to people, businesses and communities.”