While the siege continues, however, we have business to conduct. That is what our industry is all about. Exemplifying this approach, Chris Collinson, president of Connect, last week penned a letter to the industry on what Connect is doing to ensure that those planning on taking part in its Connect 2020 event this summer in New Orleans will be able to do so with the confidence and the assuredness they should expect. Here, uncut, is what Collinson tells readers and prospective delegates:
Since the coronavirus siege has dominated every thought, word and deed of travel and tourism industry professionals worldwide, each issue of INBOUND has urged our readers to check regularly with the US Travel Association for up-to-date information and resources to help us cope with and, eventually, prevail in our battle with this virus.
Dear Valued Partner,
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We felt it was important to share our response to COVID-19, better known as coronavirus, as concern grows. Above all else, know we are committed to taking a leading role to offset the disruption in the events and travel industry.
Coronavirus will affect events for the near term, but this is not the first issue to cause the industry to adapt. Americans learned to travel with more security measures after 9/11. Individuals and businesses spent money differently in the wake of the Great Recession. Similarly, travelers will now adjust to new and different ways companies address the dangers of diseases like coronavirus. This is why Connect is taking several steps to create the safest and cleanest industry show.
Because health and safety are our top priorities, here are the ways we are protecting you in August.
—Connect is working with a health consultant, a world-renowned expert in the areas of immunology and infectious diseases who has decades of experience at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Connect will work with this consultant throughout the planning and execution process of our event.
—We will partner with a local health provider to conduct well checks on each attendee before they enter the convention center. If a person has a high temperature, they will be denied entry into the conference.
—We will change the way we provide F&B. This may include serving individually wrapped products. We understand this will increase waste, but in the short term, it is the best course of action.
—Surfaces inside the convention center will be wiped down with Clorox twice per day during the event.
—We will increase the number of hand sanitizers around Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
It is important for us to take these steps because Connect 2020 is important to you, just like you are important to Connect. We owe it to cities and hotels affected by the outbreak. Events like ours are vital to staff like housekeepers and other service staff who count on our business to support their families. We take that to heart. Connect 2020 will not only help hotels and businesses in New Orleans, but those in Raleigh, Roanoke, Rochester, Reno and every destination represented at our event. By introducing meeting planners to hotels and venues to do business, we are positively contributing to individuals who rely on groups gathering in one place to conduct business. This is our passion because it is the most personal nature of our industry. The timing of Connect can’t be better for the industry’s benefit. Full confession: We used to joke about everyone loving the heat and humidity in New Orleans in August. It turns out, viruses may be just as averse to it as us. In all seriousness, research shows that coronaviruses die faster in high temperatures and humidity. The environment in New Orleans should be a natural insulator. This, in conjunction with the steps we will be taking inside the convention
center, have us confident Connect will be the safest space possible to do business. You will book new business!
We pray and hope for the wellbeing of you and your families, and for the least amount of disruption to our industry. This is a new world, but rest assured we are preparing for a post-coronavirus way of doing business. We remain committed to producing the safest show in the industry. As humans, our innate nature is to meet in-person. Events will go on and we will lead the way. It is important to you. It is important to us.
Let’s continue this conversation. Reach out to me at [email protected].