SALES staff at venues in the United States switched to businesses such as real estate as Covid forced closures, lay-offs and drastically reduced working hours, a webinar organised by PCMA in Asia Pacific heard this week.
Venue and hotel operators are now seeing a return of executives to their workforce with the strong take-up of vaccines across the US and with people keen to return the business events industry.
The “Ask Me Anything” session featured PCMA chief executive Sherrif Karamat, chair Kirsten Olean and Asia Pacific managing director Karen Bolinger.
Olean said property sales and marketing was one of the main businesses where executives in the business event industry sought income during the height of the downturn.
“There had been temporary losses of sales personnel to real estate… but a lot of people are coming back to work as hotels and convention centres are opening,” Olean, who is also director of meetings at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, said.
She said people with a “great passion for this industry will come back”.
“I think we are a better industry for that [and] in having a workforce with people who are in it for the long haul.”
Some 150 people in Asia Pacific have qualified for the PCMA’s Digital Event Strategist certificate designed to equip planners with more skills to organise digital or hybrid events.
Karamat added that strategies to retain talent within business events were being planned. This included more collaboration with associations such as the exhibitions industry’s UFI and event marketers following PCMA’s acquisition of CEMA, the Corporate Event Marketing Association.
Questions asked by online viewers of the webinar reflected views on what Karamat called the “outdated business model” of business events and conferences being bound by destinations to revenue streams such as room nights, venue hire and F&B. Instead, cities and regions would be urged to consider the economic and educational legacy left by conferences and the expertise they bring during the course of the event.
Other strategies included more collaboration with universities beyond tourism faculties to show how the expertise found in associations benefits cities and regions.
Karamat said links with event marketers involved in brand building across Asia Pacific and the exhibitions industry would also be strengthened.