A take on post COVID-19 Industry
Elliott Grant is President of the SITE Great Britain chapter and a passionate advocate of the benefits of incentive travel. Having worked in the industry for over a decade he has travelled all over the world with clients, exploring new and established destinations, always with the aim of leaving a positive legacy with both the clients and the destination.
By Elliott Grant
With COVID-19 doing unprecedented damage to the incentives industry, it’s about time we started to think about what our industry is going to look like once everything blows over and how we can get things up and running again as quickly and effectively as possible.
It’s been a mixed message from corporates with many individual clients stating that they are keen to get their events running as soon as possible, some even saying that rearranged incentives could run as early as September/October. The message from the businesses however can often contradict this with companies not wanting to expose their top performers to any unnecessary risk that may occur from travelling.
In light of this, here are a few ways we can mitigate client nerves and start to get our industry back on track.
AIR TRAVEL – due to social distancing measures that may well start to take place on flights, it’s inevitable that the cost of travel is going to increase. If it doesn’t, we’re going to start to lose airlines due to them simply not being able to operate above break-even at the reduced loads.
In light of this, for budget reasons, we may see a lot of previously long haul incentives looking at shorter-haul options. This is great news for lots of Europe which is sometimes overlooked in favour of long haul options but in fact has some incredible destinations yet to be fully utilised.
DOMESTIC INCENTIVES – with the new restrictions on incoming travellers needing to quarantine, a lack of uniformity across different borders and the high likelihood of a period of corporate restrictions on non-essential travel, there will almost certainly be a rise in domestic incentives. Whilst often disregarded because “getting on a plane” was always seen as the sign of a reward trip, the destination gems that exist across Europe may now come into the spotlight across the continent. A UK incentive to Scotland, a French incentive to Provence, a Turkish incentive to Cappadocia and a German incentive to the wilds of the Black Forest – all options that we may see coming to the fore over the next 12-18 months.
EXCLUSIVE USE – with social distancing being the phrase of the year and something that looks like it’s going to be sticking around for a while, there’ll certainly be more demand for properties where there’s the opportunity for exclusive use. In the short-term, this will help offset any potential corporate policies about restricting incentives to large hotels with limited ability to protect the group from external contact.
CREATIVITY – one thing that we’re certainly going to need to increase is our creativity as an industry, and not just the fun stuff. The changes that COVID-19 has inflicted on us may well be around for some time so we’re going to have to work together – agencies, DMCs, hotels, tourist boards and everyone else involved in the industry – to provide a tailored, engaging and rewarding product to our clients in the as yet unknown post-COVID-19 world.
TIME – one thing that we have been given is the gift of time. Time to look at our business and assess whether we’re building them in the right way, whether we’re operating the right events, whether we have positive relationships with the right suppliers and whether we’re targeting the right clients in the right way. It’s a time to look at all these areas and make sure that when we come through this crisis, we have stronger businesses ready to pick up and rebuild our industry.
We also have the time to connect. One of the main positives that has come out of this crisis is the incentive industry community – we’re no longer agencies, suppliers, representation companies, hoteliers – we’re one industry and the way it has come together to support each other has been incredible. Lead by associations such as SITE, we will come out of this a stronger industry, with better relationships that will lead to a better product and service that we offer our clients.