How Convention & Visitor Bureaus Are Rising to the COVID-19 Challenge

3 Questions with Brian-Douglas Standwood of Visit Aurora

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused myriad impacts on the health, welfare and economy of the U.S. and across the globe. Among those industries hit the hardest is the travel industry which Oxford Economics estimates will see a decline of 45% in 2020. At the same time, Go LIVE Together, a coalition of live events leaders and businesses – including Meeting Expectations – estimates that the meetings and events industry contributes nearly $1 trillion to the U.S. economy and employs millions of workers – making the events industry one poised to help stimulate the economy as we come out of this period.

As the situation has evolved over the past several months, Meeting Expectations’ in-house Site Selection team has been on the front lines, not only supporting our clients, but also working closely with our convention and visitor bureau (CVB) partners across the country. Among these partners is Brian-Douglas Standwood, Assistant Sales Director at Visit Aurora, the Colorado city’s CVB. We spoke with him this week on how COVID has impacted CVBs.

1. What have been the biggest COVID-19-related challenges for Visit Aurora CVB?

Beyond navigating all of the day-to-day changes that have come as a result of the pandemic, along with ensuring we stay abreast of the health and safety protocols, we have two core challenges to meet, to best serve our city and our partners:

  • Rebooking business. With business on the already on the books for 2021, potentially not having space to rebook 2020 groups will be a challenge to support both our clients and hotel partners.
  • Space capacity planning. We are working to understand what space and capacity will look like in the future. For example, will a group that would typically need 10,000 square feet now need to increase its requirements to 15,000 square feet to allow room for social distancing? Or, will groups cap their attendance or registration to adhere to new standards for separation or spacing? 

2. How are your city and CVB helping to enforce client, event, and food safety for upcoming programs?

We are providing resources and information to help our clients stay up to date on the changing health and safety protocols. We are all working together to figure out the needs of future meetings and events

When we roll out our formal recovery plan, it will include keeping our clients updated on the protocols in place with each hotel partner in our destination.

3. What pieces of advice or wisdom can you share as we look ahead to the remainder of 2020?

As a nation, we will need to figure out how to get on the same page. We are already finding that some destinations will have longer stay at home orders and gathering restrictions. The remainder of 2020 is all about recovery and how to build toward 2021. Together, we need to focus on returning to travel when the time is right.

Convention and visitor bureaus like Visit Aurora CVB can play an instrumental role as we navigate these challenging times by helping connect our clients to hotels and venues while also being a barometer for the current conditions and climate within each destination.

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