In an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World, Stephen Meehan, Chief Executive, the Convention Centre Dublin (The CCD), shares about the meetings and business event scenario in Ireland and Dublin as well. He also gives his insights about how Dublin regenerates itself to be a best meetings and event destination in Europe.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about the post COVID-19 MICE Industry in Dublin?
Stephen Meehan: There’s no doubt COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the MICE industry globally. In Dublin, we are back open for business. Air access is improving once again and in January we hope to be back to 100% capacity for events once again. We have hosted digital, hybrid and in-person events this year and have a number of international meetings and conferences scheduled for 2022 including Biomedica 2022 in March. Post COVID-19 our role will remain just as pre COVID-19, that is, to offer exceptional service and deliver to our clients’ events vision. How we do this has adapted during the pandemic, having evolved our technical capabilities well over the last near on two years.
Travel And Tour World: How is the meetings and event industry affected due to COVID-19 and its blitz of its new variant Omicron?
Stephen Meehan: We worked closely with our tourism authority Failte Ireland to help develop the guidelines by which meetings and events can operate safely during the pandemic. The CCD is open for business. In the last two weeks, the Irish government has reinstated temporary restrictions on event capacity until January next year. This has had an impact on December events, particularly Christmas parties and banquets. However, we are optimistic for 2022 and will continue to follow Irish government and public health advice. As demand to hold events builds in the New Year, we are ready.
Travel And Tour World: How are The Convention Centre Dublin and the convention bureau working to promote MICE industry?
Stephen Meehan: When COVID-19 hit, the Irish business tourism industry and convention bureaux quickly created our Business Tourism Recovery Taskforce, whose purpose is to ensure industry survives and then thrives as we return to our new normal. One new initiative just launched through the taskforce is that newly booked, qualifying conferences for 2022 in Ireland can receive a €100 per delegate subsidy. This will help ensure Ireland is even more competitive post COVID.
In November and December this year, we attended IMEX US and IBTM with Meet in Ireland and the Dublin Convention Bureau. There was lots of interest in Dublin and we were delighted to meet lots of buyers and showcase the city and The CCD. Dublin is open for business. The city is ideally located at the gateway between Ireland and the US. Air access has improved significantly this year and new routes continue to be added.
Ireland has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe*. We, at The CCD, have all the health and safety measures in place to make any conference or meeting a safe and comfortable event for clients and delegates. *Source: ECDC
Travel And Tour World: Tell us the meetings and event scenario in 2021-2022 scenario? What events does The Convention Centre Dublin secure?
Stephen Meehan: Early 2021 was very quiet for events in Ireland as government restrictions did not permit events of any size. During this time, we were host to the Irish Parliament (June 2020 – July 2021), as well as a number of digital events. As restrictions were lifted in the second half of 2021, we were delighted to host more face-to-face events, including the World Cargo Symposium in October, the Digital Media Awards and the five-day Textile Sustainability Conference in November. January and February 2022 are a little quieter than usual, but we expect a very full and busy year from March.
Travel And Tour World: What are the necessary steps right now The Convention Centre Dublin has taken to fight against this new variant?
Stephen Meehan: Since the onset of COVID-19, we worked closely with our tourism authority Failte Ireland to help develop the guidelines by which meetings and events can operate safely during the pandemic, so we have great experience here at The CCD. The health and safety of our employees, contractors, clients, delegates and visitors is been our priority.
The venue is a large spacious building and we have used the space well to ensure
delegates’ safety and comfort during events, including adapting our catering services to avoid queues and provide a more comfortable experience. The air handling units at The CCD operate on full fresh air. This means there is no recirculated air used and supply air never mixes with return air which gets discharged to the atmosphere.
Travel And Tour World: Share with us, your opinion on recent meetings and events trends.
Stephen Meehan: Post COVID-19, I believe that there will be strong demand for authentic and memorable experiences. We have all missed human connection and the world beyond our usual environment. Destinations, meetings and events will have to be safe, unique, service- orientated and able to cater for diverse technical needs. I have noticed a real enthusiasm and genuine welcome in any of the Irish service experiences I have had lately. This authentic service is tangible and memorable and it says we are ready and waiting to welcome you back.