Great uncertainty remains with upcoming events and incentive programs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. FICP continued to examine how plans are being impacted and adjusted in its Fall 2020 Pulse Survey, with a focus on the next four quarters of activity. As with the Spring Pulse Survey, the report is intended to provide a point-in-time look at a situation that is rapidly evolving. Likely due to the pandemic-focused nature of the survey, the Fall Pulse Survey also saw higher-than-usual participation across FICP's community of meetings professionals and hospitality partners.
Download the full Fall 2020 Pulse Survey report or view highlights for each audience below.
Meetings Professional Findings – Fall 2020 Pulse Survey
The majority of respondents were planning up to 10 corporate/business meetings or "other" meeting types in each quarter through mid-year 2021. Unlike Spring 2020, significant numbers of respondents (between 21-64%) were planning no incentive programs through Q2 2021.
Impacts of the Pandemic on Meetings/Events
Approximately one-third of respondents had no incentive programs that were cancelled, rescheduled or with yet-to-be determined outcomes, likely due to having none planned in the coming year. The majority of respondents had already rescheduled or cancelled up to 50% of their corporate/business meetings through Q2 2021, with another 51% of respondents indicating the outcome of up to 25% of those corporate/business meetings remaining to be determined. Open-ended comments revealed that optimism remained about the second half of 2021, with companies starting to focus their efforts and plans on meetings and events for that time period.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings professionals and their organizations were revisiting future-event contracts. The area of greatest change was in the force majeure and pandemic language, which was cited by 89% of respondents. Greater flexibility in attrition clauses, F&B minimums and time to make cancellation decisions were also frequently noted by meetings professionals. Corporate policy emerged as a top challenge to re-scheduling meetings, experienced more often than all other challenges outside of availability for desired future dates.
Virtual Meeting Activity
In each of the subsequent four quarters, the majority of meetings professionals were hosting some or all of the corporate/business meetings and "other" meeting types virtually in lieu of an in-person experience. Incentive programs were the outlier to this trend, with nearly all of those that were cancelled or rescheduled not transitioning to virtual experiences.
The majority of meetings professionals reported they've found Zoom to be the most successful virtual meeting platform. Those professionals report virtual meeting fatigue, retaining attendee engagement and participant comfort with the online platform as the most challenging aspects to hosting virtual meetings.
Hospitality Partner Findings – Fall 2020 Pulse Survey
In Fall 2020, the average percentage of anticipated 2021 business impacted by hospitality partners was 60%, as compared to 75% reported for 2020 in April 2020. As a result of these impacts, the majority of suppliers were continuing to experience employee layoffs or furloughs, reduced work schedules and pay reductions at their companies.
About their Clients’ Meetings
Similar to findings in the Spring Pulse Survey, most hospitality partners (89%) indicated they are working with clients on a case-by-case basis on responses to meetings and events that have been cancelled or rescheduled. They again emphasized the importance of long-term relationships in open-end feedback about these responses. More than one-third of partners had also already released clients from contracts in the spirit of demonstrating flexibility and commitment to long-term relationships.
As with the Spring Pulse Survey, the majority of hospitality partners completing the Fall Pulse Survey (87%) indicated at least some of their clients had agreed to forfeit all or part of their deposits in recognition of work performed to date.
About the Fall Pulse Survey
In October 2020, meetings professionals and hospitality partners were invited to take the Fall 2020 Pulse Survey to document the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to meetings and events and their businesses. Download your full copy of the Fall 2020 Survey report for additional insight from your peers, and stay tuned for future Pulse Survey invitations.