It seems that it was yesterday when the World Health Organization declared the global pandemic of Covid; fortunately for most countries around the globe, this emergency «over”, after scientist came across and developed the vaccines that decreased the infections.
It’s been more than two and a half years, and since then, many lessons were learned, not only at a personal and health level, but in how we work and develop within our industries, such as the Meetings Industry.
For Sherrif Karamat, PCMA President & CEO, one of the most influential personalities in this sector, the Meetings Industry faced complicated times. However, since most boarders were opened and restrictions eased, it’s time to get back together and get business done; in the understanding that there are new trends, lessons and challenges ahead.
Lessons and trends
In that matter, Sherrif said that we have to understand that COVID might have happened for us, not to us; then this global situation should be considered as a wake-up call, of what he considers, the most profound impact in our society.
For him, if we don’t take care of sustainability and climate change, we could be in a lot of challenges in our life; but thanks to the Covid condition, many event organizers were impacted in how they look at destinations and hotels in terms of sutainability. In fact, this topic is starting to be part of their contracts, he said.
Another thing he sees in post-pandemic times, is that we have started to be more familiar with home office; then, event organizers have to lead more value to the conventions, congresses or exhibitions they are developing. Because people are more selective of the events they want to participate. So, the content, the educational programs, the opportunities for business, and the networking are components the attendees are considering before they take the decision to assist.
The experiences are also a main decision issue, Karamat said, because when people travel, they don’t stop living, they still want to call their family, they still have work to do, maybe they want to exercise or go to a nice restaurant. Considering this, the meeting planners need to make sure to incorporate all this life experiences into their events, so that people will say: “it’s worth my time”.
According to PCMA President, another quite important thing to embraced after the pandemic is data, because event data will lead organizers to understand the buyers, to understand their motivations and insights and this information will help them to design their events in a better way. And as a consequence, they will be able to attract more attendees and engage them better. For Sherrif, the event organizers are getting much more “sophisticated” in how they are using data to build better experiences for their members and their customers.
During pandemic time, companies had to be more efficient with expenses and investments, they had to take the most of it, considering the difficult times. Many jobs were lost, but now that we are in the midst of recovery, businesses are facing shortages of people to work, Sherrif Karamat told.
Speaking about challenges, for the President of PCMA, the Meetings Industry came back very strong, but companies can’t find people to work, and, if this issue is persistent, they won’t be able to deliver the level of service they are used to.
Secondly, Karamat is a little bit worried about the fast recovery the Meetings Industry is having, in the sense that we run the risk of repeating the same mistakes we have made in the past, and therefore, forget what we have learned in those two years; so, his concern now is that if we face another pandemic, we will be in the same type of situation.
And even when many countries have already open borders, there are others that haven’t eased their restrictions, so for Sherriff the Meetings Industry around the world is operating in different levels; then, we have to realize how are we going to deal with it, considering the situations are different.
Last but not least, the global situations such as the possibility of getting into a recession, inflation, the increasing costs for airlines and the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine, are facts that are going to impact the travel industry whether we like it or not, Sherrif Karamat declared.
What’s PCMA doing for Meetings Industry after pandemic?
The Meetings Industry is facing a new beginning after Covid. Sherrif Karamat agreed we have learned many lessons from this human history episode, but it’s on us to take the most of it, in order to boost and enhance what he considers the most important industry in the world.
Him, from his position, as the leader of PCMA, is doing quite things like the launch of a data course that help people to understand and use the data in order to be more successful. Another thing this association is doing, is showing people to create experiences for the attendees, so they can be more attracted to come to events.
Last but not least, Sherrif is emphasizing that we have to understand that the Meetings Industry is not tourism, and he wants to ensure the government can be more informed and aware (supported by data) about the role this sector is playing in the world’s economies.