By Nicole Walker, CEO Arinex
As we look for ways to rebuild our industry while Australians line up to get vaccinated, it is clear our industry also needs a shot in the arm. While we are fortunate to still have a full events calendar this month, we have had the expected drop-off of events as the lockdowns continue in our two biggest states and I know we are not alone.
Vaccinations are a certain way of turning things around and vaccination certificates are being driven from many different stakeholders. Airlines are pushing for travellers to be vaccinated; venues have begun encouraging vaccinations among staff and we have found more and more clients are preferring their PCO staff to be fully vaccinated so they can better guarantee their events are COVID safe. It only follows that all delegates will soon be required to be vaccinated as well – you cannot have a missing link in the chain.
A key industry calling for 100% vaccination of delegates at events is, understandably, medical associations. These healthcare professionals are at the forefront of this pandemic and they are very eager to return to meeting face-to-face for hands-on education, keep up to date with evolving trends and to obtain CPD points.
As Australians get their jabs, all levels of government need to continue their education campaign to convert vaccine sceptics or anti-vaxxers. Incentives, such as promised freedoms for New South Wales residents, are a good idea to drive vaccination rates and help us return to the new normal. Of course this depends on adequate number of doses becoming available, as currently there are still cases of people having to wait months before getting a vaccination appointment.
So what is the trajectory for the events industry? It is possible that national conferences may return in some small way late this year, however it is safer to plan for the proper return of face to face in the new year. For international travel, we are hopeful (and have been advised by government) that will resume in early to mid-2022.
While these long forecasts are frustrating, this pandemic has reminded us of the importance of planning conservatively and of proper risk management (and sound insurance policies!). There is no point striving for earlier, as we all know the implications and the cost – in labour alone – on postponing or cancelling events. This underscores the importance of virtual technology and hybrid events, until we see the face-to-face element of events growing more robust towards the end of 2022.
We also need to continue lobbying our federal government for assistance for the whole industry. Implications are being felt throughout the entire supply chain; extended lockdowns are challenging for all organisations and our thoughts are with our partners who are doing it tough. We need to remain energised and focused on the future, using our ingenuity to continue coming up with new and exciting ways to hold events.
We are all stronger together.