Meeting Spotlight recently spoke with Amy Durocher, director global accounts, Global Cynergies, to see how business has changed as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and how it will change going forward. Global Cynergies is a hotel- and venue-sourcing company.
How has your segment of the industry changed since March?
Well, much like everyone else in our industry, our business has been significantly impacted but we have stayed focused on meeting our clients’ needs and facing the challenges. We spent many hours working with our clients on moving and rebooking programs, addressing contracts and risk mitigation and in some cases, working through cancellations. We were fortunate in that most of our clients were in a position to rebook, so that’s where the bulk of our energy was spent early on.
As our clients needed to make adjustments in how they were going to operate their programs and reach their audience, we worked on helping them find those solutions—whether it was identifying the right partners to bring a virtual or hybrid component to the program, working with the hotels on socially distanced setups, or implementing COVID-specific protocols, such as contact tracing. I am happy to share that we do have clients who have successfully and safely operated programs over the last few months and we are actively working with our clients on booking future business.
What are some trends you have seen in recent months? Do you think these trends will last? How are you adjusting to those trends?
In terms of incentives, we’ve worked with several different brands and properties on individualized incentives, which are booked as a group but the attendees have a window of time in which they can travel individually versus the traditional group format. We have found many of our incentive clients love this concept, as it allows them to reward their employees while giving them the freedom and flexibility to travel in a way that feels most comfortable to the attendee. I would love to see that option continue.
How has your businesses adapted to the new normals?
We have had to be very flexible but, in many ways, that is something we have always had in our company DNA. As a small business, we have to be strategic about our decision-making and ensure we are spending our time focusing on the things that will help drive our business forward. We very much believe in the future of the meetings business and the desire of people to meet face-to-face. We are appreciative of the technologies that have allowed us to be connected during this time but it is not a substitute for the energy and connection that occur when you get your team together in person.
Have you used this time to develop new strategies for the future? If so, what have you developed?
Absolutely. Internally, our corporate team addressed virtually every aspect of how we operate our business and we took the time to identify what was working and what could use an update or change of strategy. Ultimately, our focus is to continue to do great work and provide a valuable service to our clients. Our clients' meeting and event strategies have increased in complexity, while many of their teams have decreased, hotels have faced difficult staffing decisions and, sadly, there’s a number of our colleagues, hotel partners and clients who have lost their jobs. Our message is that we are here, we are ready to work for you and be a trusted partner when planning your meetings and events.
How are you structuring your meeting strategy moving forward in terms of virtual events vs. in person events?
What we are hearing from the majority of our clients is that they are using the technologies available to provide a virtual or hybrid component, but the future remains focused on getting back to in-person events. The ability to provide a virtual component is an important piece of the puzzle, so that there is a solution in place while we continue to move towards a vaccine. While adjustments need to be made to maintain the safety and health of attendees for those that are meeting face-to-face currently, in my experience, the hotels are doing a fantastic job of providing a safe venue with staff that are well trained at delivering a successful socially distanced meeting experience.