Why vaccination matters to our industry

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Why vaccination matters to our industry

By Annette Gregg | Oct 25, 2021

The vaccination issue is complex, personal and controversial. I’m not someone who likes to air highly politicized topics publicly like this, and I’ve avoided asking friends if they are vaccinated. It’s their choice, and it’s often a decision that has come with a lot of consideration that I want to respect. I was hoping we’d reach herd immunity quickly enough even with all the holdouts.

We pushed through with our annual conference, the World Education Congress, in June in Las Vegas, and had a successful and safe event with more than 1,200 people onsite. The past few months have seen hopeful signs of a recovery, with destinations opening up and leisure travel back with a vengeance. Travel and hospitality companies faced labor shortages and couldn’t hire fast enough. We all started to exhale a bit—cautiously optimistic.

“The past few months have seen hopeful signs of a recovery, with destinations opening up and leisure travel back with a vengeance.”

And then along came the delta variant. Although the COVID mortality rate is on the decline according to healthdata.org, the scare has been enough to cause some meeting and event organizers to slow their fall 2021 plans for in-person programs. While we have deep knowledge on how and why to hold a safe event during the pandemic, some people just don’t want to risk it. Our embattled industry does not need this slowdown to recovery.

I was encouraged by Freeman’s recent webinar “Inside LIVE: The data you need to navigate delta.”

Based on attendee vaccination rates, upgrades to air-quality systems inside venues and other safety protocols, events are less dangerous than some daily activities like going to a grocery store. According to large-event tracing by Epistemix, recent events have not been shown to be a major driver of COVID case counts.

“Learn how to hold a safe event and communicate to your stakeholders why in-person meetings can happen now.”

“Our data shows that events are safer than many everyday activities,” said Ken Holsinger, senior vice president of data solutions for Freeman. “Participants—from attendees to exhibitors and staff—have a vaccination rate of 80 percent or greater, and climbing. That creates a coverage ratio that drastically cuts transmissibility at events. Modeling from our partner, Epistemix, finds that the risk of infection at events is as much as eight times less than the metro area where they are being held. As event organizers, it’s our job to communicate how essential this travel and these business events are, and how safe they can be. Be proactive in explaining the importance of the event itself in changing the hearts and minds of your audience.”

What can we do? Know the facts, learn how to hold a safe event and communicate to your stakeholders why in-person meetings can happen now. And finally, encourage vaccination with your attendees. Public health officials tell us vaccinations take the place of lockdowns. No matter what your personal viewpoint on vaccination is, as a meeting and event professional it is the most responsible and quickest way to get our industry traveling, meeting and thriving again.

Annette Gregg, CMM, MBA
MPI Senior Vice President, Experience
agregg@mpi.org
 

Author

Annette-Gregg-headshot-2020
Annette Gregg

Annette Gregg, CMM, MBA, is senior vice president, experience for Meeting Professionals International.