Padraic Gilligan (pictured), chief marketing officer, SITE & SITE Foundation, notes: ‘We’re living with Covid, working with it, working around it, working through it. Clients need to meet, to deliver their incentive travel programmes, to stage their events’
I don’t think anyone, even the late, great Nostradamus, would have predicted a year ago that 12 months hence we’d be marking another Christmas amid uncertainty, another Shakespearean ‘Winter of discontent’.
By Christmas of 2020, most of us were done with lockdowns but drew hope from the signs that, besides the baby Jesus and Santa Claus, a vaccine was also imminent, leading us inexorably along the road to salvation and redemption. Now we’re wondering whether, in fact, we should have put more trust in the baby Jesus as the vaccine is proving less bullet proof than the science initially foretold.
Sluggish uptake of the vaccine in some countries (you know who you are!) along with a unwelcome procession of non-consecutive Greek letters signifying further variants of the original virus, sucked out all the positive energy we felt at IMEX in Las Vegas leaving us disappointed, despondent and dispirited by the time we met again in Barcelona for IBTM World – just over two weeks later. Yes, of course, we made the best of it, as we always do, but behind the watery smiles and the gallows humour, we felt bad.
A week on from Barcelona and, do you know, I think the mood changed again. Today, I’ll have a socially distanced drink with a great buddy from Dallas, in town on a site inspection for a programme in late 2022. I chatted with a local DMC earlier who told me that enquiries are way up, and that 2022 and 2023 are looking better than 2019 (their best year ever).
I’m also involved in daily planning calls for SITE Global Conference, taking place in late January in Dublin and while there are additional restrictions in place at the moment in Ireland’s capital, the organising goes on apace, full of Plan B scenarios. In other words, we’re getting on with it.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? We’re living with Covid, working with it, working around it, working through it. Clients need to meet, to deliver their incentive travel programmes, to stage their conferences, to run their events. After almost two years of Covid, we’ve developed protocols that previously didn’t exist and we now know how to deliver – it might be entirely digital, it might be reduced numbers, it might be hybrid, but we have solutions and our industry is actively implementing these, tweaking them, refining them, but making it happen for our clients.
During the pandemic, along with everyone else in the world, I developed an antipathy for the word ‘pivot’. More recently, I’ve been getting the same negative feelings towards the word ‘resilience’. I’m finding more incidence of its misuse than cases of the virus (and those daily cases are in their thousands where I live!) and everyone and his maiden aunt is talking about “the resilience of the human spirit”. But not me.
I’m simply going to call out what a remarkable species we are. We’ve realised now that it’s time to get on with it, and that’s precisely what we’re doing. We’re not waiting for Covid to go away because it might be with us for a very long time. We don’t have that long to wait. We have meetings to organise, incentives to arrange, conferences to stage, events to manage.
Let’s just do it!