March 2021 marked one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Which had tremendous effects on the meetings and events industry as well as our partners in hospitality, travel and many other industries throughout the world. But, with vaccines currently being administered and rates decreasing in some areas - it seems as if we're turning a corner.
With the continuous progress and changes taking place within our world and industry, BCD M&E's Global President, Scott Graf, hosted an Ask Me Anything event via LinkedIn Live on April 21, 2021. The goal of the event was to provide his insight on the current state of the industry, BCD Meetings & Events' business and to answer questions asked by the live audience.
In this article, we recap some of the top talking points from the event.
Scott Graf Answers Top Meetings and Events Questions
Q: What is your current outlook for the meetings and events industry?
Scott Graf: I'm very optimistic. There is no doubt that the pandemic devastated the industry, but we've all grinded through it and I'm very optimistic that we can get back to not only 2019 level of business, but grow beyond that fairly quickly. I feel particularly good about BCD M&E's outlook.
Q: What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge for getting back to business as usual?
Scott: The biggest one is the success of the vaccine rollout. It has to begin to build confidence for individuals to travel again. It's going to be an adjustment now to get back out there and I think for all of us as individuals, we have to feel comfortable in gathering and traveling again before we can get back to business.
Q: What are you looking for most from your hotel partners in the next 6 - 12 months?
Scott: I would say flexibility and speed. The RFP is a long process sometimes, having hotel partners that come prepared to move quickly, have open dialogue about what it takes to earn the business and help move through negotiations quickly is important.
Q: How have you kept your team motivated and engaged during COVID?
Scott: I think we were running on adrenaline for the first few months. We had a lot to understand and act on. And while we we separated, we found ways to still connect. We found ways to connect with each other, with our clients, our partners and most importantly, our employees. I personally had dozens of one-on-one coffee chats with individuals across all levels of the organization and the world, and there were virtual happy hours, among other things that help keep that human connection.
Q: With Media & Production playing such a large role in meetings and events this past year, do you think it will continue being a key component in a post-COVID world?
And if so, does BCD M&E have plans to grow this area of their business?
Scott: I do think that virtual will remain important going forward. We've proven that virtual can be successful for a number of reasons, mostly reaching wider audiences.
For us, it's a very important part of our business. In 2019, we invested pretty significantly in in the virtual and media and production worlds which we really needed in 2020. Now, we're not only investing further in the US and UK markets, where we have this in-house capability, but we're actively looking to grow our own footprint on the mainland of Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific in this area.
What's next for BCD Meetings & Events?
Scott: We have a lot of exciting activity happening. One evolution, however, will be particularly exciting for our customers looking for fully integrated experiences that drive results in their business. The catch is that we are announcing May 5th through another LinkedIn Live event. So, for those watching, keep your eye out for exciting news to come.
Spend 90 seconds with Scott Graf as he shares how BCD M&E overcame obstacles from the COVID-19 pandemic to emerge better than ever.