Indoor gatherings pose the highest level of risk in contracting COVID-19 prompting the cancellation or postponement of various events like the Olympics. MICE is different from what it used to be.
Events and conferences violate the three C’s that must avoid at all cost during this time: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. Being in one room, eating at the buffet, and networking are aspects of MICE that we may not be able to do anymore.
Some event organisers decided to push through moving the events and conferences virtually. Virtual meetings and gatherings have become popular nowadays as we try to maintain physical distancing. Therefore, the question remains, is MICE, as we know it, dead?
Comparing my year to 2019, I would have attended at least five conferences by this time. Attending a virtual event is definitely not the same as attending it physically. Conferences like ITB and WTM are more than keynotes and discussions, it is also a golden opportunity to expand one’s network and gain friends in the same industry.
Even us in Travel Daily missed hosting our signature Thirsty Thursday, but we always put the health and safety of our friends and clients.
Some organisations are still waiting if the situation will get better. After three ITB events were cancelled earlier this year, ITB Asia is still on the cards. TD has reached out to know the changes that will be implemented in this year’s ITB Asia slated in October. They responded in a statement:
In a post-COVID-19 world, we suspect that certain business trends and individual preferences that started during the pandemic will remain. As the situation continues to develop and concerns associated with the virus continue, we have and will continue to take proactive steps to ensure that we meet the safety and wellbeing of our workforce and the communities we operate in.
To prepare for the October event, we have been actively monitoring the situation around the world. We have also been working closely with Singapore’s Government and regulators, such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trade & Industry and Singapore Tourism Board, to ensure that the event follows government mandates and guidelines. In addition, we have taken extra steps to ensure we provide the highest level of protection for all event participants. While not exhaustive, ITB Asia/Messe Berlin is constantly reviewing its processes to ensure that the most updated set of measures are in place at the event:
- Facial recognition services for contactless check-in and check-out services of all event attendees and delegates
- Adoption of digital solutions such as ticket machines and apps to help with contact tracing and social distancing
- Deployment of ‘Social Distancing Ambassadors’ to ensure that social distancing is followed throughout the event ground
- Reconfiguration of show floor and conference room floorplan to take into account safe distancing measures
While MICE is not entirely decimated, there will be a lot of changes on how we conduct events until a cure is found.