Vaccine passports to have limited impact, repitching businesses takes precedence

medical/scientific event organisers//participants may insist on venue staff to be vaccinated and have a passport.

While many see Covid-19 vaccine passports as a solution or “game changer” for the meetings industry, a PCMA panel discussion to mark Global Industry Meetings Day on April 8, countered that it would only offer “limited impact”.

Ben Hainsworth, managing director of EASL – The Home of Hepatology, opined that vaccine passports were “a distraction” because the industry had “no control” over it, and added that many vaccine rollout questions also had to be answered.

Scientific event organisers and participants may insist on venue staff to have vaccine passports

“A vaccine passport would be the catalyst if delegates and staff are legally required to be vaccinated, or if scientific groups may not accept the gap if venue staff are not,” he said.

“What is more important is to repitch the business,” Hainsworth noted, and moderator Oscar Cerezales, MCI Group’s global executive president corporate division, agreed.

Hainsworth pointed out that “offering 2019 value propositions would flop, and face-to-face events would have to be totally reformulated”.

Sanjay Seth, managing director Asia-Pacific, BCD Meetings and Events, expressed optimism as the company was “seeing and hearing from customers”, noting that while face-to-face meetings were preferred, clients have also embraced virtual events.

Seth added BCD was accelerating its omnichannel plans, looking at in-house opportunities, and is working with partners.

Panellists at the session

With online participation, Lyn-Lewis Smith, CEO, BESydney, commented the industry needed a different way to measure the impact of the disruption to direct expenditure for hotel stays, F&B, etc.

Covid-19, Smith noted, had taught people to do things differently and the industry needed “generalists” with “T-shaped skills”, while Seth said BCD would look for individuals outside the events industry like digital marketers and scientists.

On attracting new talent, Seth said the industry would need “to expound that it is very different now and what we do will influence healthcare and other industries”, while to focus on sustainable goals, Smith said philanthropic investors were needed to highlight the industry.

Seth also commented that venture capitalists should consider giving back to gig economy workers.

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