Travel Trends Likely to Impact Association Events

By Donna Oser posted 03-04-2021 07:54

Pure Michigan Pledge

David Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, offered remarks at the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau's Annual Meeting yesterday. Lorenz focused on trends impacting travel in Michigan for the coming year and the strategy for this year's Pure Michigan campaign considering limited funding and ongoing public health concerns. The following items stood out as particularly relevant to associations concerned about what return to travel and meetings may look like for 2021 and beyond. 

  • Michigan's brand perception as a travel destination has been impacted by the past year's political and sociological activism and related media coverage. It is vital to emphasize Michigan is a safe and welcoming destination for leisure travelers and meeting attendees alike. 
  • Re-engaging travelers is critical for leisure and business travel. While Lorenz expects interest in leisure travel to ignite in May, sending consistent communications about traveling safely and the safety of venues in Michigan will assist the return to travel. In addition to communicating meeting-specific and venue-specific safety protocols, tools such as the Pure Michigan Pledge and Michigan's Travel Safe videos may be useful. 
  • This year's Pure Michigan campaign will focus on in-state and regional travel due to funding constraints and public health concerns about travel. Associations marketing events in the state may be able to leverage some of this marketing collateral. Keep an eye out for what Lorenz described as a "visiting places you've never been" ad campaign. 
  • Lorenz expects travelers to have heightened expectations about health and wellness.  Healthy menus, fitness activities, and work/life balance breaks may become conference planning rules versus the exception. Planners should also work with venues for venue-based supports for healthy lifestyles, e.g., a running concierge, fitness tours, etc. 
  • The ongoing impact(s) of remote work's pervasiveness for adults and lost instructional time for children is still unknown.  Moving forward, far more family members and/or guests may accompany conference-goers, turning business trips into mini-vacations. Assessing prospective attendees' expectations and desired accommodations early in the planning phase may increase participation and satisfaction. 

Lorenz's full presentation and the video of GLCVB's Annual Meeting is available here. Congratulations to the bureau's leadership, staff team, and members on a great annual meeting and for demonstrating remarkable resilience and creativity in a year of unprecedented challenges. 

What other implications might these trends have on association meetings and events? Share your thoughts with us!