COVID Insights for Conferences

Like many of you, the Velvet Chainsaw team has spent most of our professional lives in the meetings industry. We’re devastated about how this pandemic is impacting the clients, friends and partners we have worked with and care so much about.

Since early March, our team has helped dozens of conference and show organizers with their decisions on how to respond to the pandemic. Although each situation has its own unique issues, the articles in this newsletter share much of what we’ve learned to help you with your disruption response and planning.

If you need a sounding board to help you think through how to respond to your situation, feel free to reach out to any member of our team to set up a call. This is a no-cost offer for our clients and friends.

Stay well!
April 2020
Video: Sarah Michel with 5 Tips to Guarantee Engagement at Your Virtual Event

Over the past couple weeks, conversations with our clients have shifted from crisis decision-making for conferences occurring in the near-term (reactive) to scenario planning for the fall (proactive). While there is still significant uncertainty for the health and safety of mass gatherings, those of you with your major events in Q3 or Q4 have a little time for weighing your options.
How your organization and leaders respond during this crisis will have long-term impact on your members and customers. The best moves we’ve seen so far include using your reserves, seeking out unlikely allies, and pausing marketing as well as your program build.

Where lead time permits, work through at least three scenarios – optimistic, pessimistic and somewhere in the middle. We like using an outside resource to set the scenario goal post. The  Conference Board  has the best we’ve come across so far, and includes quick recovery, deeper contraction, and extended contraction.

According to STR and Tourism Economics, the U.S. hotel industry is projected to report a 51-percent decline in RevPAR in 2020. Occupancy for the year is expected to hit an all-time low of 43 percent. Similar forecasts would apply to nearly any other product or service you can link to the live events industry. In the first 90 days of resumed business travel, intimate gatherings are going to recover more quickly than mass gathering.