Undoubtedly 2020 will be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic, a tough year for everyone whilst allowing time for reflection, self-awareness, hope and recovery.
A long and challenging year especially for the hospitality industry, although it is important to acknowledge what we’ve achieved by pulling together during this time. Some of these stepping stone achievements have definably been:
- Working together as an industry for a quick recovery
- Transformation to be more digital, use of new channels of communication both for personal life and business
- Creativity and talents to transform business
- Reviewing goals and results
- Transparency and integrity to keep team informed and close
Fortunately, the positive news is that we are bouncing back and the time invested in all of the above, has now brought us back to somewhat of a normal scenario as more companies look to provide travel experiences and recognition for their employees and clients. There is a strong desire to travel with caution ensuring that proper health and safety protocols are in place. This coupled with the vaccination process in full swing for those who want it, we are seeing the demand accelerating for travel throughout the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
New group requests coupled with events postponed from 2020 and early 2021 have created the reality that many of the most popular destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, such as Cancun, Mayan Rivera, Los Cabos, Punta Cana are seeing an increase in bookings for the latter half of 2021 and first and second quarter of 2022.
So, what should be the approach if your organization is “thinking” about meeting outside the US?
- Research – consider polling your attendees to get an accurate feel for how many are really willing to travel. Based on the feedback, determine what dates/locations your group is most comfortable traveling to and then check with your global sales contacts to review options
- It’s important to consider the airlift into the destination and what the anticipated airline costs will be. This coupled with finding hotels with flexible cancellation and attrition terms are key in this new reality we are now living through.
- For companies still not comfortable in traveling in groups, one can still reward top clients or employees through flexible individual reward programs. Here companies can prepay individual trips that the recipient can take at a time that suites them best. Many of your favorite hotel companies are offering variations of this individual travel program. Be sure to ask around!
- Hotels´ Hybrid Options, for those who are not yet comfortable travelling in a Post Covid World.
- Hotel Contracts – Cancellation and Attrition clauses are key, making sure it works both for client and hotel.
Many lessons have been learned during this time and our strength in coming together is key, we must continue to stand strong as we get back on track in a safe and secure environment.
Carmelina Iannarone, CMP, CMM
Director of Group Sales, North America – Melia Hotels International