In an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World, Kerry Prince, Brand Director in Reed Exhibitions reveals on how Reed Exhibition is planning to overcome the challenges they are facing in post COVID-19 time.
Travel And Tour World: What are the challenges right now the United Kingdom is facing in the MICE industry? Tell us about how to overcome these challenges.
Kerry Prince: Reed Exhibitions is a leading global events business. We combine face-to-face meetings with data and digital tools to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors, attracting more than 7 million participants.
The exhibitions industry contributes £11BN to the UK economy, and the sector has been effectively closed for the last 12 months and faces several more months of restrictions.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in Europe, we have been working closely with the UK Government providing all information and lobbying in favour of the exhibition industry to bring organised events back safely.
Last month – Feb 2021, the UK government published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ document setting out the roadmap for England and conference centres and exhibition halls, including for business events, will be returning on May 17th (with capacity limits) and all being well, all events will be allowed by 21st June.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about the 2021 Arabian Travel Market. What will our objective for promotion in the 2021 Arabian Travel Market?
Kerry Prince: Our overall aim is to keep the tourism industry connected and deliver positive business and networking opportunities to the travel and tourism community.
ATM 2021’s spotlight theme, ‘A new dawn for travel and tourism,’ aims to deliver a message of recovery and look closely into the industry’s current state and, more importantly, what the future holds.
It will also be integrated into all show verticals and planned activities. A host of seminars on the show floor is designed to look at the emerging trends and how innovation can drive the industry forward.
This year’s show will be in a hybrid format, running an in-person event from 16th to 19th May and the following week, a three-day virtual show from 24th to 26th May, to complement and reach a wider audience than ever before.
Indeed, with the vaccines being rolled out across the world, it is with an air of optimism that we look forward to welcoming travel professionals from around the world in May, with a positive outlook that we can address whatever issues the ‘new normal’ presents to us.
Travel And Tour World: How are you planning to promote the meeting industry in post-pandemic time?
Kerry Prince: Meetings post-pandemic are going to look a lot different. We can expect to see more hybrid events going forward. However, even with the growing trend towards more virtual interactions due to the pandemic, human interaction remains essential.
There is nothing like meeting face-to-face, particularly in an industry like ours.
The travel trade is about human contact and experience, and there are things you cannot do virtually. Meeting someone in person also ensures a deeper level of trust and understanding.
Forging meaningful bonds sometimes starts with accidental meetings, which doesn’t happen as often during virtual events.
Travel And Tour World: What are the steps you have taken to host the physical event successfully?
Kerry Prince: From an ATM perspective, we work closely with the team at the Dubai World Trade Centre and with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) to provide a safe, touchless and seamless experience for all.
The show will strictly adhere to the stringent health and safety guidelines set by the venue. The team at DWTC are working hard to ensure that all events run safely and have implemented a range of measures, including an enhanced cleaning regime, improved air circulation, multiple hand sanitiser stations and temperature checks.
Travel And Tour World: What are the new technological updates to host a safe event?
Kerry Prince: This past year has changed the way we look at events and meetings. The pandemic has caused a dramatic acceleration of technology adoption and digitalisation.
It’s no secret that the whole industry has adopted virtual events, and it’s clear that the future of the industry is hybrid.
With these new exhibition types comes a greater opportunity to reach and engage with new audiences larger than ever before.
For the physical events, contactless, for instance, has become a familiar concept in the exhibition industry, and the pandemic has added to the interest and take-up as a way to reduce the spread of the virus by reducing surface transmission.
Around the world, Reed Exhibitions have strengthened hygiene, sanitisation and the availability of disinfectants at our events. We also have appropriate medical support and protocols based on guidance from local and national public health authorities.