By Daryl Keywood, md, Walthers DMC and Destination Business Solutions-Africa
For clients of Walthers DMC and Destination Business Solutions-Africa, the biggest issue is when to travel. So, while we have been lucky enough not to see any outright cancellations in any of our business, all our 2020 bookings from mid-March to the end of Q2 have chosen to postpone and are waiting to understand the best time to travel for their events.
We initially had our eye on the third or fourth quarter to rebook events but this has since changed. Our clients need assurances that they are able to postpone more than once, if required, due to the uncertainty of the situation.
In the meantime, we’re protecting our cash with cost-cutting measures and when the time comes to kick-start business, we will still have all the necessary resources at hand.
In the future, regulations for meetings will change drastically. We will have to limit numbers and emphasise distancing based on local restrictions and restrictions from the attendees’ own source markets. Whatever travel eventually occurs will probably need to accommodate more hygienic practices.
If we break things down to the various segments, association meetings will likely continue, although numbers will be lower initially, based on fear of travelling and affordability. The decision to travel (given the known risk) is dependent on the client.
Corporate sponsored meetings and incentives will mainly be impacted by two things:
- In a post-COVID economy, companies are likely to have reduced budgets for incentive travel and fewer incentive qualifiers.
- Corporations will need to minimise the exposure of their employees to COVID-19 when they travel. Employees are likely to be hesitant to travel (especially if there are underlying health concerns).
What would hugely benefit recovery in MICE travel is an international standard on social distancing and the development of hygiene standards by individual corporations.
Daryl Keywood is md and ceo of Walthers DMC and Destination Business Solutions – Africa. He has a history of working in the business and leisure segments of the travel and tourism industry and is particularly skilled in incentive travel, conferences and exhibitions, among many other things. Daryl studied at IMM Graduate School.