Survey: Most Meeting Pros are Concerned About Coronavirus Impact

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Survey: Most Meeting Pros are Concerned About Coronavirus Impact

By Michael Pinchera | Feb 13, 2020

As the world works to understand, prevent the spread of and cure those sickened by the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the meeting and event industry finds itself in the mix.

Currently, 99% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases are in China, as are 99.9% of reported deaths. With so much talk about this virus in the media, it may sound like we know a great deal about it, but the truth is that perhaps the most important unknowns remain. For a better sense as to how meeting professionals are being and/or expect to be impacted by COVID-19, we distributed a short survey (Feb. 10-11).

Concern & Impact

COVID-19 concern
Thirty-four percent of respondents identified as “extremely concerned” about COVID-19 and its impact on meetings and events. Overall, the vast majority of respondents (90%) expressed some degree of concern. Only 8% claim to be “not concerned at all.”

Attendance and travel disruptions were the most significant ways in which meeting professionals fear COVID-19 could impact their events. The full list, from greatest to least concern:

1.     Attendee cancellations/lower attendance

2.     Disruption of travel

3.     Speaker cancellations/difficulty finding speakers

4.     Disruption of supplies (F&B, décor, etc.)

5.     Having to postpone/cancel an event

6.     Having to change an event’s location

7.     Banning attendees from certain locales

8.     Transitioning to a virtual event

9.     Increasing onsite medical/emergency staff

10.   Expanding event insurance


Curiously, 12% of respondents expect COVID-19 will increase their meetings business this year. Meanwhile, 54% of respondents expect to have less business through 2020 as a result of COVID-19, and one-third of respondents (33%) don’t anticipate any change in the amount of business.

Staffing & Insurance

Much has been discussed about contract language and event insurance as it relates to COVID-19. It appears that education/awareness on this front is needed as 73% of respondents were unsure if their event cancellation insurance covers communicable disease--and another 20% said their insurance does not cover this.

On the staffing front, 67% reported their organizations have no formal contingency plan for managing human resources in the event that COVID-19 is confirmed in their immediate community. (For more on this, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to 2019 Novel Coronavirus.")



Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera, MPI's managing editor, is an award-winning writer and editor as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997.