The SDI Meetings & Incentives team is eagerly looking toward a return to travel as vaccinations roll out across the United States and globally, keeping close tabs on what that travel looks like in a post-pandemic world. How are we along with our industry partners protecting our clients, our friends and ourselves? What should be considered when asking employees and clients to get on a plane, stay in a hotel and enjoy a meal together again?
Communication is Key to Meeting Destinations
The return to meetings and events requires that participants feel safe and confident in the protective measures being taken through every step of the way, in addition to delivering a valuable and engaging experience. One of the most popular event cities in the US, Orlando is remarkable for its ability to mix business and leisure, and the Orange County Convention Center’s recovery and resiliency guidelines have allowed them an early return to safe in-person meetings and events, successfully hosting several events already in early 2021. From the airport to ground transportation to hotels, the city has organized and communicated all the ways they are keeping visitors safe. To be competitive in the resurgence of meetings and events, many cities across the U.S. and the world are working diligently across stakeholders to ensure visitor safety and comfort in every stage of their trip.
The Changing Hotel Experience
The hotel experience has also evolved, with redesign in space and processes, such as lobbies and common area seating that allow for more personal space and social distancing. Operationally, air purification systems and surfaces that are easily cleaned have become the norm. Digital keys and contactless check-in, already on the rise before the pandemic, are commonplace as travelers use mobile devices to bypass the front desk and head directly to their room. New cleaning standards and protocols will remain in place – offering travelers a strong reassurance as well as giving them the flexibility to choose if and when their room is accessed by housekeeping during their stay. Dining experiences and offerings are more creative – from grab and go options to prepackaged meals to contactless room service – the customer decides how they feel most comfortable.
Committed to the Guest Experience
Leading hotel brands continue to define and update their guidelines as we learn more about pandemic best practices. Hilton CleanStay, Hyatt’s Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment and Marriott Bonvoy’s Commitment to Clean give confidence to travelers with comprehensive policies and solutions for staying, meeting and eating within any property across the wide networks of these familiar hotel brands. Equally committed to safe and enjoyable experiences, Four Seasons Lead With Care, IHG, ALHI, Leasing Hotels of the World, Accor’s ALLSAFE, Grupo Posadas, Playa Safe Stay and others have successfully put broad and effective measures in place. Smaller, boutique hotels are also demonstrating their commitment to guests with policies and safe practices, as well as offering groups the unique opportunity to secure the property just for their guests, providing reassurance and reducing exposure while traveling. Overall support from industry groups such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Global Business Travel Association, and the Events Industry Council serve as valuable resources for community and sharing, as everyone works continually to improve and strengthen their efforts.
Considerations for the Future
More changes are on the horizon for leisure and business travelers. Vaccine passports may allow holders access to larger gatherings or specific types of travel. On-site testing, masks and interaction cues become more commonplace at meeting points of entry, and hybrid events expand the audience an organizer can reach. Businesses are navigating the need and desire for employee travel and communicating in real-time how employees will be safe during meetings and in-person interactions. Strong partners are critical to successfully navigating the myriad changes and continuously evolving practices that allow a return to events and in-person meetings, and the SDI team is ready and eager to support you.
About Us: SDI Meetings & Incentives is the global-yet-boutique meetings, incentives and special events partner driven by the basic truth that Experience Matters. Creating custom experiences to reward performance and fuel growth, SDI taps decades of expertise to deliver solutions managed from concept through execution by one tenured point of contact. We’ve produced programs around the world, for groups from 10 to thousands, combining the exact right elements to support our clients’ goals and to motivate and inspire their attendees. Find out more and contact us at ExperienceSDI.com.