While many see Covid-19 vaccine passports as a solution or â€śgame changerâ€ť for the meetings industry, a PCMA panel discussion to mark Global Industry Meetings Day on April 8, countered that it would only offer â€ślimited impactâ€ť.
Ben Hainsworth, managing director of EASL â€“ The Home of Hepatology, opined that vaccine passports were â€śa distractionâ€ť because the industry had â€śno controlâ€ť over it, and added that many vaccine rollout questions also had to be answered.
â€śA 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,â€ť he said.
â€śWhat is more important is to repitch the business,â€ť Hainsworth noted, and moderator Oscar Cerezales, MCI Group’s global executive president corporate division, agreed.
Hainsworth pointed out that â€śoffering 2019 value propositions would flop, and face-to-face events would have to be totally reformulatedâ€ť.
Sanjay Seth, managing director Asia-Pacific, BCD Meetings and Events, expressed optimism as the company was â€śseeing and hearing from customersâ€ť, 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.
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 â€śgeneralistsâ€ť with â€śT-shaped skillsâ€ť, 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 â€śto expound that it is very different now and what we do will influence healthcare and other industriesâ€ť, 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.