Honorable Mention Chapter Award
Honorable Mention Chapter Award

The state of meetings and events in Europe

Sep 30, 2021, 16:14 PM by Blair Potter
MPI leaders from Germany, Italy and The Netherlands Chapter share insights about meeting industry recovery.

Leaders from the MPI Germany Club, MPI Italia Chapter and MPI Netherlands Chapter share insights about the recovery of the meeting and event industry in Europe.

Can you give us an update on how recent changes in restrictions have impacted the ability to organize meetings and events in your country?

Thijs Peters, president of the MPI Netherlands Chapter and director of sales for Postillion Hotels Nederland:
“Our last change in restrictions was 25 September. From this day on it was no longer necessary to wear a mouth mask and social distancing was no longer obligatory. However, only on the condition that one can prove being vaccinated, recovered or tested. This has led to an increase of mostly small corporate meetings and training and educational sessions. Not everybody in The Netherlands is happy with the Corona Pass. Some consider it an infringement of their rights. For the most part, people consider it a small offer to make for more possibilities to meet each other or enter a restaurant or pub.”

Marina Parra-Flechsig, director of operations for the MPI Germany Club and managing director/owner of Weichlein Tours + Incentives:
“The government is actively working on relaxing the restrictions and we see a positive short-term future for meetings and events in Germany.” 

Luca Vernengo, president of the MPI Italia Chapter and general manager of GVST Event Experts:
“On 2 July, just one day after the 267-day ban on live events had finally formally been lifted by our government, we kicked off our 30° MPI Italia Chapter Convention in Turin. Respecting all the COVID regulations such as social distancing, use of PPE, sanitization, etc. So, the authorisation to be in person again was a big change, however we still had the feeling of living under a Sword of Damocles, wondering when another lockdown would strike our industry.”

How have recent pandemic-related changes (vaccine increase, changing restrictions) impacted your business and the business of your colleagues?

Parra-Flechsig, MPI Germany Club: “We are already receiving more requests and confirmed business for the last quarter of 2021 and for 2022. However, the clients are coming on very short notice and the number one demand from the clients is flexibility on cancellation or reduction terms in the contracts.”

Vernengo, MPI Italia Chapter: “Luckily enough the vaccination campaign has been going quite well and the government decided to embrace the ‘Green Pass’ system rather than risk new lockdowns. So, since 6 August it is mandatory to have a Green Pass to be able to attend any type of indoor event or any public event, go to museum, etc. The Green Pass has been extended from 15 September also to other sectors such as transport, vital to our industry. There is still a long route ahead of us, but this has given our sector a glimpse of optimism.”

Peters, MPI Netherlands Chapter: “You see that trust is slowly coming back, now that measures have been lifted. T&Cs are still very flexible, and big international conferences are requested for the second part of 2022 onwards.”

How has the role of your MPI chapter evolved during the pandemic?  

Vernengo, MPI Italia Chapter: “Our role has always been to represent our members and to increase their professionality and to be advocates of the industry. However, this role has been enhanced tenfold during the pandemic. Thanks to MPI’s international reach and the important surveys, we have been able to feed the press, the government and the public in general with relevant data on the global and local impact of our industry. This data has been fundamental to have our voices heard, to recognize our profession. It has taken a lot of work, time, dedication of the leadership team and collaboration with many other associations. Our members have felt the efforts that the leadership team have put into this ‘fight’ and have felt MPI closer than before. Needless to say, we have faced a very rapid and scary change in our industry and in our lives. As meeting professionals, we need to learn to understand the value of change and that good change can be designed. Together, sharing the brain power and the diverse abilities and strengths of our MPI community, we will be able to move forward on the right path, stronger than ever.”

Peters, MPI Netherlands Chapter: “Of course, we have guided our community through the pandemic by informing them and sharing knowledge. We have organized online events and have played a role in Fieldlabs in collaboration with the Dutch government. These were trial conferences to see how we can safely organize conferences.”

Parra-Flechsig, MPI Germany Club: “Our club has not been very active over the last few months. However, we are planning to restructure the club within the next few months. I have taken over the position of director of operations for the club and will coordinate all activities that will happen in the future, starting by contacting the members and actively inviting them to participate in online discussions and educational activities, which will start as of October 2021.”

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

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