4 Takeaways for Venue Reopenings

During the second day of the DI Advocacy Summit, I had the opportunity to facilitate a shirtsleeves discussion with destinations as they look ahead to reopening venues in their communities.

Here are just a few of the great takeaways from the conversation with destination leaders.

1. It's all about relationship building. 

Patrick Kaler from Visit Buffalo said his community's convention center is currently closed. The destination organization hosted a photoshoot to showcase how the convention center has been reoriented for meetings and trade shows. 

In the meantime, building relationships has been critical to help Buffalo weather the coronavirus pandemic. It's helped them pack their convention calendar for 2022, and prepare for a possible return to events in 2021. "We've been going back to clients to reassure them and let them know we are following guidelines established by the state of New York," Kaler said.

It was a magical evening that had a sense of normalcy. It proved there is a way to look outside the box and still keep the key sense of the event.

Jantine Van Kregten, Ottawa

2. Get creative with events.

Jantine Van Kregten with Ottawa spoke about the destination's annual blues festival, which typically brings tens of thousands of attendees to Ottawa each night. 

Because of the pandemic, the community had to get creative. Ottawa partnered with the National Arts Center to place musicians on a barge in the canal, and guests were able to sit at socially-distanced tables to view the event.

3. Be flexible.

Angela Matherne with Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc. has been working with her community to look ahead and adjust to unexpected events. Their upcoming annual event had to be rescheduled due to a hurricane, but the hybrid event is back on and scheduled to take place next week. 

Participants joining via Zoom will be displayed on a stage behind the speaker, to help integrate them into the event. "It's a lot of technology! But we have great technology partners who are helping put it all together," Matherne said.

4. Involve the community.

Christine Thorne with the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB has been working across the community to involve local businesses by encouraging them to take part in a safety pledge. More than 600 businesses have taken the pledge, and it's building confidence in the community and across event planners.

It's a nice little something to show what we are doing, and our local businesses and hotels can put the pledge window cling at their facility to show they are taking things seriously.

Christine Thorne, Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB

At Tempest, we are so inspired to see how destinations are adapting in the face of the historic challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Destination organizations have risen to the moment, providing critical support and guidance to their communities as the pandemic continues to impact the tourism sector.

Destination organizations have always been critical resources for their communities, and their value is becoming more important than ever as we work together to support locals, and look forward to a resurgence of travel and tourism across the globe.

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