Business travel

Industry leaders advocate for a full return of business travel and events

Industry leaders advocate for a full return of business travel and events

In what was perhaps the strongest argument to date calling for a full return to in-person business meetings, leaders from the business and travel sectors gathered on September 15 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to Deliver a powerful, data-driven, science-backed message: Travel and attending professional meetings, exhibitions, and events can safely resume, significantly accelerating the United States’ economic recovery.

As part of the Let’s Meet There initiative, the broad alliance included representatives from the American Society of Association Executives, Clear, International destinations, Events Industry Council, Alliance Exhibitions & Conferences, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Mean Business Coalition meetings, International Professionals Meeting, Professional convention management association and US Travel Association.

Emphasis was placed on the importance of business travel to the US economy and the need for its return, the distinctions between business meetings and events (PME) and other “big events”, scientific data and the models that prove SMBs are safe, dozens of events that have been conducted safely over the past few months, and health and safety tools to help the industry move forward.

“Every evidence we see from the scientific and academic community tells us that with the right practices in place, the traveling workforce and professional event planners can get back to work reconnecting with clients and colleagues. “said Roger Dow, President and CEO of US Travel. “Ultimately, the business community will drive a return to business travel and in so doing, bring the economy back to a greater normalcy.”

Economic image

Adam Sachs, CEO of Tourism economics, discussed the massive impact of business travel and SMEs on the U.S. economy and its positive correlation with business profitability and productivity with some disturbing statistics from Oxford Economics: In 2019, corporate travel domestic businesses and SMEs generated $ 270 billion in direct travel spending and $ 338 billion in indirect spending, supporting 4 million jobs, while in 2020 the amount of direct spending decreased by $ 211 billion or 68%. Without targeted efforts to help the sector rebound, forecasts predict that it will take another three years to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“When we look to the future, we plan based on current recovery rates and what’s going on in the economy, and before we’re fully satisfied with business travel and [PMEs] by 2024 we may have lost $ 522 billion in direct spending, or half a trillion dollars spent during this period of recovery, and you can add to that an additional $ 77 billion from the home market. international business travel, ”Sachs said. “So there’s a lot at stake right now. “

Sachs also shared the following statistics based on the current climate:

  • 65% of companies were taking domestic business travel in August, but intentions to continue traveling over the next three months have declined amid concerns about the Delta variant. (Source: World Business Travel Association)
  • The group’s demand for hotel rooms is around 55% of 2019 levels in September. (Source: STR)
  • For every dollar invested in business travel, U.S. companies reported a return of $ 5.90 (or 590%), and business travel to the United States generated $ 1.60 in profit for every dollar spent. (Source: Oxford Economics)

“Even in these difficult times, these statistics [for revenue and profits] show that the health, productivity and innovation of businesses are directly linked to the ability to travel, meet, share ideas and promote products and services, ”Sachs added.

Low evidence-based health risks

Sachs also highlighted data from multiple sources indicating that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is significantly lower for SME participants than that of the general population based on the following current full vaccination rates:

  • 65% of American adults (Source: CDC)
  • 72% of American travelers (Source: Destination Analysts)
  • 78% of American business travelers (Source: Destination Analysts)
  • 92% of American adults with a college degree (Source: US Census Bureau)

“We can clearly see that when you head into business travel, especially meetings, conventions and trade shows, where higher education is prevalent, you are in a largely safe environment from the general population. “Sachs explained.

Echoing this sentiment, US Travel’s Dow pointed out recently published data Ohio State University health scientists, who noted that SMBs are not super-spreading events because they are well-controlled and monitored events that adhere to strict health and safety protocols.

“The science has been true,” said Dow. “These events are happening safely because we now have a lot more knowledge and a lot more tools than at the start of COVID, and it’s an industry-wide commitment to make them both safe. and productive. ”

In addition, recent independent studies of the Mayo Clinic, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the US Department of Defense validate the safety of air transport today on the basis of the health and safety protocols in force.

During this time, Epistemix, a computer modeling software company, has worked with the event industry for the past nine months through the Alliance of Exhibitions and Conferences (ECA) to complete several event security studies. Studies have determined that implementing protocols based on current COVID-19 conditions has created environments that make events safe for participants and the communities in which they take place. Scientific modeling of the ECA and Epistemix has shown that in-person SMEs have a near zero (0.001%) risk of transmitting COVID-19 to participants.

John Cordier, CEO of Epistemix, gave an example of an event in Philadelphia, in which the daily cases per 1,000 people were 4.5 for city residents, 3 for participants in the event without a protocol. security in place and 0.7 for participants with multiple security protocols. in place. The result was a four-fold reduction in the risk of being infected during the event with protocols such as wearing a mask and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, among others, which is even lower. to CDC guidelines for too much transmission in a given area, according to Cordier.

“The event industry is actually able to take the lead in putting these protocols in place and encouraging not only attendees, but exhibitors and event staff as well, and that doesn’t lead to conduct case in the community, ”Cordier said. “With this risk reduction, we have already been able to see over 300 events occurring safely in the United States this year alone.”

Events run safely

Several of these events were organized by emerald, one of the main organizers of B2B exhibitions. Since January, he has safely and successfully hosted dozens of business events and B2B conferences across a wide range of industries. Emerald’s NY NOW and JA New York were the first two in-person events to take place in New York City’s new downtown Javits Center since its closure due to the pandemic, as well as Outdoor Retailer at the Colorado Convention Center. Emerald plans to host more than 15 in-person B2B business events across the United States before the end of the year.

“We got involved with Epistemix because we believe we need the science to drive us even more towards how we are going to open events safely,” said Hervé Sedky, chairman of the board of directors of the ‘ECA and CEO of Emerald. “We now have really solid modeling that allows us to tailor the measurements to have safe events.”

The platform is a frictionless approach to checking health status, whether it’s a full vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test, according to Seidman-Becker. People sign up once and can use it anywhere, and partners can easily activate and deactivate different modules according to their needs.

“We have launched a campaign called ‘Come Back Better’, which aligns really well with the ‘Let’s Meet There’ initiative,” said Seidman-Becker. “We’re partnering with businesses big and small to make sure we never shut down again, and we need to put in place platforms like the health pass to make sure we stay open, stay healthy and we give. give consumers the confidence to have safer and easier experiences.

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