Teaming up with Martin Haymes, Director of Sales Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow, Patrick Wimble, Lightbulb Consulting (reporting on STR European Hotels update) and Simon Beard, Compliant Venues, Exclusively Thames Valley’s Founder, Maxine MacPherson facilitated a webinar with corporate direct event planners to look at the future of pharmaceutical meetings & hotels.
“The Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow, with its large open meeting rooms and public spaces is playing a crucial part in understanding what meeting planners need in order to be confident to re-book events and adapting to any changes to ensure they can fully support all future requirements in a safe and secure environment” says Martin.
Following a recent industry poll directed at pharmaceutical companies, conducted by Martin Haymes, we asked pharmaceutical planners if they agreed with the findings and what they felt the future of meetings looked like. Key findings from the poll and webinar:
- There is a lot of uncertainty and lack in booking confidence for meeting planners. Most are looking to hotels and airlines for information on hygiene planning and social distancing to ensure safety and security. Currently meeting planners are working remotely and meeting virtually with a view to re-planning F2F meetings before March 2021.
- It’s very likely we will see the return of live events for F2F UK team meetings first, with the potential for meetings to be filmed live and/or recorded and distributed to international locations.
- A large proportion of hotels are planning to re-open their doors in July, but this does depend on various factors including government and scientific guidance, operational readiness for social distancing as well as levels of business demand. Investment is being made in technology for improved hybrid meetings but for some independent hotels, this may not be financially viable at the current time.
- The survey showed that guidance from the WHO and information on venues’ new policies will play a key factor in the decision making process on deciding where and when to hold and event. Post-event case studies would be welcome to educate the industry.
- There is a question mark around whether there will be some standardisation on hygiene compliance with venues across Europe as individual venues adhere to their own local government guidelines, WHO guidelines and even their own scientific research and advice – what will a compliant venue look like?
- Airlines undoubtedly have a major role to play around travel as they plan for social distancing and the reopening of international flight routes to determine when to re-open. It’s highly likely we will see domestic and international leisure re-emerge first and result on increased confidence for business travellers.
- 50% of survey completion agreed that the success of virtual meetings will lead to a decrease in F2F meetings but that there is certainly a need to resume F2F.
- Companies are adapting well to working from home with investment in technology and training. It’s likely that many companies will return to offices this year in a rostered format to enable a lower office capacity. Larger corporations are also seeing a great cost saving in utilities and overheads, as well as improved productivity from employees and a larger contribution to sustainability.
- Although there is an element of virtual fatigue, hotels must focus on hygiene and safety to ensure they are ready for business. Hygiene planning and social distancing measures are now more meaningful to meeting planners than location and cost.
- Cancellation T&Cs and attrition clauses will become very important to meeting planners when selecting venues. Venues in general have been successful in providing flexibility to move an event, often within 18 months of the original event, but undoubtedly there is a pressure for the venues to now secure business to guarantee their openings and T&Cs are often being reviewed on an ad hoc basis.
- Flexibility | Hygiene| Technology | Budget seem to be the order of priorities when booking a venue but possibly as the latter is taken for granted where supply is potentially higher than demand. Hotels certainly need to be showing greater flexibility on cancellation charges and attrition to attract business – but positively there is a recognition for partnership and a growing understanding for the commercial viability of the venue when negotiating. Partnership is KEY.