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As effective vaccines are being distributed around the globe to key demographics, the events industry has been given a dose of hope. Hope is a strong drug, but planners need to develop even stronger plans and preparations to move forward in a post-vaccine landscape. Keep these four factors in mind as you begin to fill your 2021 roster.
Individual Incentive Travel
Event industry trends indicate that 2021 may see less group incentive travel than before, but individual travel incentives will grow in popularity. As the C-19 vaccine gradually makes its way to the entire population, individuals will feel more comfortable traveling solo or with a small group of vaccinated people. This will allow companies to celebrate individual employee achievements in a more personalized way than ever before.
“We will see a rise in companies allowing their employees the opportunity to pick a location of their choice for individual travel or small group travel with fellow team members,” explains Kristina Johnson, Meeting Planner, LEO Events. “This more personalized incentive travel is going to continue to be a trend throughout 2021 and 2022 as travelers will want to have more customization for their travel, something that works on their time and for their needs.”
As part of the emergency coronavirus relief package, the controversial “three-martini lunch” tax deduction may offer a unique benefit for incentive travel planners and corporations. Formally named the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the tax break refers to the practice of indulging in leisurely business lunches and deducting the entire cost as a business expense. The goal of this “Mad Men” – era practice is to stimulate the restaurant industry while also giving companies opportunities to reward employees without breaking the budget. The three-martini tax benefit may allow corporations to expense incentive trips for employees by writing off a large portion of the expense.
People are eager to travel and attend events. As companies begin to develop vaccine credential technology, airlines and ticket companies look to contract vaccine passport apps to assemble their customers safely and in compliance with HIPAA regulations. A coalition of tech companies, nonprofit groups, and health organizations, including Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Cerner, Epic Systems, Mitre Corporation, and Mayo Clinic, announced that they have begun to develop technology standards to enable users to obtain and share their immunization records through health passport apps. As we return to live events and festivals in the coming months, we may see requirements for vaccine records to enter public events and to board airplanes. These credentials will be shared via apps, digital passports, and immunization cards, all of which will need to be stored through a third-party health care provider with HIPAA compliance.
Safety and Security
While vaccinating the entire population sounds ideal, it is not necessarily a requirement for returning to live events. Herd immunity may happen when 70% to 85% of the population is vaccinated, but reports show that it may be Q1 2022 before the US reaches that threshold. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the distribution speed and success rate of the vaccine, planners will likely be required to continue enforcing personal protection equipment for the foreseeable future. With so much uncertainty, one thing we do know is that clear communications and standardized protocol will lead risk management efforts in 2021.
Pre-COVID, personalization was a trend; an increasingly significant way of connecting with a tech-savvy generation that wants to customize everything. In events, it was a fun and enticing feature that drove attendance and engagement – everything from biometrics and personalized F&B to custom avatars and hyper-personalized gamification.
“Now, or soon [for post-vaccine hybrid and in-person events], personalization will be an expectation – even a requirement,” explains Michael Dalton, SVP, Strategy, LEO Events. “The ability to modify the event experience will serve a greater purpose because the ways and places in which the attendee journey can be personalized affect one’s health, safety, comfort, social habits – even one’s identity.”
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available to the public, the perception of event safety will grow positively. Planners will need to remain well-informed of their local and state guidelines, as well as new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Northstar Meetings Group has also created a state-by-state guide to reopening statuses and event restrictions.
Being safe and healthy in this new climate takes meticulous preparation. That’s why we’ve put together a complete plan that can be tailored to any situation, meeting your needs and keeping employees and attendees as safe as possible. We are all eager to return to live. And we can get you there – safely. Contact us to learn more about pandemic planning and post-vaccine event design.
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