Industry wide post pandemic permanent changes
Chief Motivating Officer
My recent observations from speaking at the World Conference of the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) last month in San Diego are all very positive in terms of the industry “coming out of the pandemic.” It felt like a reunion with people greeting, hugging, dining and laughing together in person, coming off a year’s hiatus as a virtual event last year. Vaccinations were required, masks we optional (I saw very few), and you could put either a green, yellow or red sticker on your name badge depending on your level of comfort with contact. The excitement to be together again, learning and exhibiting, was palpable.
As a speaker, even though I did many virtual programs during Covid, I much prefer being in front of a room again. I could read body language better and use more physical gestures, moving around the room to get better engagement than presenting from a virtual office. The audience got a lot more out of it, as I did.
From an industry standpoint, I think the “permanent changes” posed in the question (at least for the foreseeable future) will revolve around:
· Hybrid programming will add to an event’s costs and is more work for speakers who do it right, but it affords many more people the opportunity to participate, and creates an additional revenue opportunity for the group beyond just those attending in person;
· Reduced expectations (and in some cases frustration) by customers, in terms of the way things were done before such as hotel housekeeping, staffing and service levels, meal selections and delivery, RFP responses, etc. I’ve seen many cases already where certain businesses just aren’t as easy to do business with as before the pandemic. It takes 4-5 steps to do what used to be done in 1 or 2 steps. Wait times are longer. Service attitudes seem to be very uneven. Patience will be a virtue, but it will come at a price;
· Contracting and legal issues have likely turned a corner forever. All parties in a negotiation are wanting (needing) to cover themselves against the throes of a pandemic or similar far-reaching event in the future. We’ve had contracting issues before, but after a world episode like this – with no definitive end date in sight – no one wants to be caught in a legal tree shredder over it if they can help it. T