The Global Pandemic has consumed every aspect of our life and has highlighted how we are all part of a larger global community, says Mike Dominguez, president and CEO, Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) and a leader in the meetings and events industry. We reached out to him for his insights on how he feels the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic will change meetings and conventions. Here is what he had to say when we asked, “When will meetings come back?”
Mike Dominguez (MD)
We’re seeing business booked for the fall and as early as August. We also have some June and July’s, but they’re smaller programs, says Mike Dominguez.
I think everybody is waiting to hear from our health officials, and the government on what this is going to look like, as far as when we open up. And my best guess right now is if you recall, we slowly ran into this, we had restrictions of 2,500, then 1,000, then 500, and 50, then 10. I think we’re going to ramp out of it the same way.
It’s been kind of under the radar, the Democratic National Convention only got moved 30 days, to mid-August. If you see that happening, I think that becomes the visual people gathering.
(AD): What is the new normal going to look like?
(MD): I wish people would quit talking about the new normal and understand we’re going to have a short-term need, and a long-term need. Think about it, there is a new normal every month when you look at your world and how it changes.
The most important thing in this whole process, is we are going to have to get the testing ramped up even further.
Also, if you have not seen what Google and Apple are doing together, that is a game changer. For two competitors to partner together, they’re telling you they have a real idea on how to fix this. If you and I are together and have a conversation, we’re able to exchange an encrypted key through our phones that only lives there for 14 days. If I get home and feel sick and get tested and it comes back that I have COVID-19, I’m able to hit one button and everybody that I’ve come in contact with over the last 14 days will be notified.
(AD): How will the physical attributes of a meeting will change?
(MD): In the short term, there’s going to be some sense of social distancing. There will be people who will not shake hands. And you’ve heard Dr. Fauci say, we should probably quit shaking hands period.
(AD): In short term, do you think meetings will be more regional?
(MD): I think, yes, because the country is going to open that way. And then the further we get into it; I think we’ll see some larger meetings start to take place.
(AD): Will international conferences will be put on hold for a while?
(MD): Especially for ’20. I think you’re going to have some of it on hold because Europe is one of those popular destinations, and Europe is 50% of all the cases in the world. And they’ve had a large, large impact and outbreak there, and I think it’s going to take them a little bit longer to recover. I also think some incentive programs, short term, will probably stay home and it’s not because of anything else than air service. You’ve got to look at lift and when the airlines are going to start putting those flights back in play. I think international traffic will start to pick up again later in the year.
I also think people will stay home a little bit more and I think part of that will be patriotic as well as they’re trying to support their own economy.
(AD): What does the future hold?
(MD): As a community we’ll get out of this together. We will have an industry and it will be robust. It’s just in the short term, it’s going to be very, very clunky as we start to get going again, but at some point, we’ll start to get our footing under us.