• Coronavirus and Its Effects on the Meetings Industry So Far

     
    POSTED March 2, 2020
     

While oceans previously separated the coronavirus from the United States, COVID-19 has now taken hold in 38 states with nearly 1,000 confirmed and potential cases, causing 29 deaths in the United States, according to the CDC. 

While such U.S. statistics are tiny compared to the reported 88,000 global cases, each person infected with the coronavirus is likely to infect 2.2 other people, according to The New York Times. In comparison, a person who gets the flu typically transmits it to just 1.3 people.  

In light of these numbers, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says of the spread of coronavirus, “It's not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen," reports The Independent.  

With the high rate of transmission, a number of worldwide events have been cancelled to head-off the spread. Facebook cancelled its 2020 F8 Developers conference that was to be held in May in San Jose, California. The SXSW festival in Austin,Texas, scheduled for later this month, is no longer on. The St. Patrick's Day festivities in Chicago, including the parade and river dyeing, were postponed. The first games of the NCAA March Madness tournament will play with only "essential staff and limited family attendance," according to the Washington Post. Delta has waived change fees for international tickets throughout the entire month of March. In California, Coachella was postponed from April to October.  Within the industry, ITB Berlin, the world’s biggest travel event, was cancelled. The decision as to whether the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will go on as planned will be made in May, although the lighting of the torch this week in Greece will be without spectators. IMEX Frankfurt, scheduled to kickoff May 12, was cancelled as well.

With coronavirus anticipated to become more prevalent in the U.S., meetings and events planners should be aware of the impact it’s likely to have on their plans. According to an MPI survey in mid-February, 34 percent of meetings professionals are extremely concerned about the effect coronavirus will have on the industry, while 56 percent are slightly concerned. The top three reasons for worry include attendee cancellations and lower attendance, travel disruptions, and speaker cancellations or difficulty in finding speakers. The next two concerns, in order, are disruptions of supplies such as décor, and having to postpone or cancel an event, all of which cause difficulties and/or financial loss.

Meetings Today provides tips for meeting planners on how to think about the coronavirus in terms of their events, considering details such as location, the demographics of attendees and more. MPI has provided a list of ways to meet virtually, should you determine that’s the best way to proceed.  

Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO of PCMA, the Professional Convention Management Association, said in a statement that his organization would be releasing information shortly to help planners. “In February 2020, we announced our commitment to provide essential crisis management and risk assessment resources to support our global audience as the COVID-19 outbreak evolves. Those efforts are ongoing and later this week we will provide an update on our crisis management and recovery efforts.” 

As you continue to plan meetings and events, keep up to date on the coronavirus by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for news and resources.

Executive Hotels and Resorts has launched Seaside, a new waterfront property located in The Shipyards District of Lower Lonsdale (Lolo), which is North Vancouver’s historic arts and dining neighborhood. The boutique property features 71 guest rooms and suites with views of the Pacific Ocean and North Shore mountains. The architecture firm ZGF worked in collaboration with Executive Hotels’ in-house design team to bring the spirit of the outside indoors, building upon the revival of Wallace Shipyards.

 

SaltRock Southwest Kitchen at Amara Resort and Spa in Sedona has a new executive chef, Lindsey Dale. She has designed a completely new menu of Southwestern-inspired cuisine featuring light and seasonal dishes and integrating fresh ingredients from the Verde Valley. The restaurant’s outdoor patio offers guests unobstructed views of Cleopatra Rock and Snoopy Rock. 

 

In 2019, Zoo Boise unveiled its 2.5-acre, $8.9 million expansion, that features a partnership with Gorongosa National Park in Africa. The Gorongosa expansion includes wild African dogs, baboons, Nile crocodiles, hyenas and much more. Proceeds from each zoo admission goes into a conservation fund supporting endangered species. More than $2 million has been donated to conservation to date.