While most respondents to a new Prevue survey are taking a wait-and-see approach, a third reported that they had canceled or postponed an upcoming meeting due to the Delta variant.
The survey of 102 meeting planners found that while the majority of respondents — 65% — are still taking a wait-and-see approach and will make go/no-go decisions closer to their events’ dates, 30% have either canceled (17%) or postponed (13%) an upcoming meeting. The Delta variant now accounts for more than 93% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — and in some specific regions comprises up to 98% of all cases. (The CDC offers a regularly updated COVID data tracker planners can use to monitor levels in their host destinations.)
Survey respondents were fairly evenly split, with about a third each saying they planned meetings for corporations (37%), associations or non-profits (31%), and the remainder identifying as third-party meeting managers or other, such as hospitals or healthcare organization planners.
Delta Variant: Plan B
Of the respondents who said they were planning to cancel or postpone their in-person event, 46% said they were going to pivot to a digital-only event, while 11% said they were canceling outright. As one respondent said, “If we cannot hold our planned events that are scheduled for the next 6 months, we will likely convert them to digital only.” And for events that are further out? “We have not yet determined our strategy.”
Among those who have decided to postpone, 26% planned to reschedule the event more than 6 months out, while 25% said they hoped to get their in-person event back on the books in 3 to 6 months. Twelve percent were shooting for a shorter-term solution, saying they planned to postpone for just 1 to 3 months.
Back to Masking
Well over half of respondents — 55% — said they were very likely to require masking and other COVID-related health and safety protocols, such as requiring signed waivers and temperature taking requirements for entry, for their upcoming meetings. Another 17% said it was likely. About 24% said they are neither more or less likely to implement COVID precautions, though just 4% said it was unlikely or very unlikely they would be requiring any pandemic health and safety measures at their next meeting or event.
The majority of respondents don’t have a lot of time to agonize over their protocols and Plan Bs — 82% said their next event is scheduled within the next three months, and 34% said their meetings were happening in the next month or sooner.
Does Size Matter?
When asked what size and/or type of meeting they believe could be affected by worsening COVID infection rates in the near term, large corporate meetings and customer-facing events came out on top at 64%. Close behind at 59% were large association annual meetings, conventions and trade shows, following by smaller corporate events such as board meetings (29%).