Marriott sees ‘pent-up demand’ for events

Sean Hunt says a dramatic spike in gatherings in 2021 is possible, with businesses eager to meet again.

By Matt Lennon

Engagement with the business community has revealed a “pent-up demand” for events which could lead to a dramatic spike in gatherings beginning in 2021, according to Marriott International.

Speaking to Spice News, Marriott International area vice president Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Sean Hunt said the company was foreshadowing smaller and more regional meetings and events potentially even getting underway by the end of August, as the business community shows a great desire to travel and get back to business.

Hunt said prior to the latest COVID-19 infection spike in Victoria, the corporate sector was agitating and eager to travel once again.

He said there had been an uplift in mid-week corporate business, driven largely by the mining and resources sector along with consultant-based organisations helping businesses to “right-size”.

“The situation remains fluid,” Hunt said.

“I thought we had this beat. We were down to under 300 COVID-19 cases across the whole of Australia. And now we’re picking up that many COVID-19 cases a day in Victoria.

“So, it remains fluid, but if we can get in front of this, I do believe the corporates will start to travel again. People want to get back to doing business.”

Hunt clarified that while there was not much momentum expected from the large events sector for the remainder of 2020, there was already “pent-up demand” for gatherings in 2021.

In the meantime, there has been a good uptake in Marriott’s Virtual Meetings packages.

“There’ll be pent-up demand,” Hunt said.

“Companies have had to restructure their workforce and then they’ve got to communicate with their people what’s the new norm. The only way to do that is really to get together and meet.”

Building confidence with new protocol

Marriott International is currently in the midst of a global rollout for its ‘Global Cleanliness Council’, which involves the adoption of a wide variety of new technology to boost hotel hygiene and guest safety across its network of nearly 7,500 hotels in 134 countries.

Cleaning staff will be equipped with electrostatic spray guns emitting hospital-grade disinfectant. They will also become much more visible to guests so as to provide reassurance of a higher cleaning rotation.

Despite the temporary halt in business gatherings, Hunt said the company has been highly active and engaged, communicating regularly with its Marriott Bonvoy members.

“We’ve got 140 million Marriott Bonvoy members globally,” he said.

“We’ve got several million members here in Australia. We’re staying actively engaged with them, keeping them up to date on what’s going on. And also, doing what we can to help them connect with their respective customers.”

More reading

Marriott signs two new hotels in Western Sydney
Melbourne returns to lockdown: What this means for events
Five things planners should consider as events resume

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