Perhaps not surprisingly, health-related factors are taking a front seat for corporate meeting planners during the site-selection process, according to a new survey. About 71 percent of in-house corporate meeting planner respondents to a Northstar Meetings Group survey indicated that strict health and safety policies and culture were a “very important” factor when making site-selection decisions. The same percentage also noted that the prevalence of Covid-19 infections also was a very important consideration.
Yet, one-third reported that the location having minimal health and safety policies was very important, with another 38 percent calling it “somewhat important.”
Northstar Meetings Group conducted the survey Feb. 16 to March 4, 2021 and received 189 corporate planner respondents. BTN, like Northstar Meetings Group, is owned by Northstar Travel Group.
Meanwhile, 29 percent of respondents cited hotels offering Covid-19 tests as a very important consideration in site selection, while 47 percent considered it somewhat important. Nearly one-quarter did not consider testing at hotels an important factor, while one-third indicated similarly for testing at convention centers.
Health and safety certifications were cited by 45 percent as a very important factor and 40 percent as somewhat important. About 86 percent of respondents noted that the quality and availability of medical facilities was either very or somewhat important.
A destination’s current state and local gathering restrictions due to Covid-19 for 52 percent of respondents always influences their likelihood of booking that market for a future event, with 44 percent indicating it sometimes does.
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In another expected result, overall meeting planner priorities have changed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic for about 87 percent of respondents: 55 percent saying they have changed significantly, and 32 percent saying they somewhat have changed.
In addition, 61 percent reported that recent civil unrest factors to some degree into their site-selection processes, with 43 percent indicating they would avoid sites of civil unrest. About one-third said that their priorities had not changed as a result of the recent unrest.
Meanwhile, 55 percent of respondents said they would avoid cities with high crime rates, and the ability to assess the availability of police and security was a factor for 41 percent of respondents.
When planning an in-person meeting or event, the favorable reputation of a destination was the No. 1 factor for site-selection consideration, cited as very important by 76 percent of respondents and somewhat important by 22 percent. A venue’s robust bandwidth for hybrid events came in second: 64 percent rated it very important and 26 percent somewhat important. The third most important factor was a favorable climate for the site, ranked by 59 percent as very important and 35 percent as somewhat important.
Corporate planner respondents named affordable air, hotel and F&B availability as the most significant logistical consideration, with 77 percent citing it as very important. No. 2 was ample airlift, at 51 percent. Being within easy driving distance for participants was rated as very important by 45 percent of respondents and somewhat important by 37 percent.
Having a personal contact at hotels proved to be very important for 50 percent of respondents with another 35 percent indicating it was somewhat important. Prior experience with the destination was very important for 43 percent and somewhat important for 45 percent.
Regarding meeting size, 34 percent of respondents said they expect to replace national or international events with smaller regional meetings, while another 43 percent might do so. Fewer than one-quarter do not expect to do so.