Inspiration for Global Meetings Industry Day

By: Jeff Bzdawka, CEO Knowland

To recognize Global Meetings Industry Day, it seemed appropriate to speak about our industry recovery and the importance of embracing a leadership style that offers encouragement, especially during periods of ongoing uncertainty. We kicked off 2022 with great hope of a return to a near-normal year. Unfortunately, as world events unfolded around us, we found ourselves once again wondering if things would ever return to normal. Or even what “normal” means today.

As industry leaders, however, it is our job to avoid getting caught up in the onslaught of negative news. While that is a difficult task, I believe that now is the time to challenge ourselves and our teams to bring positive energy into every aspect of what we do. Whether you are a hotelier or a vendor working within the hospitality industry, the call remains the same – are you the spark leading your organization to positive change?

It is more important today than ever before that we embrace the changes facing our industry. From a group business perspective, a positive outlook can have a trickle-down effect. It begins at the top and whether you oversee a convention center or a hotel, whether you are a supplier or a software services provider, leadership must be the beacon of positivity.

A Confluence of Events

While recovery comes in all shapes and sizes, 2022 is already proving to be an interesting and challenging year. Data points coming in from business intelligence tools can oftentimes be overwhelming. Add in the fact that we seem to be facing one crisis after another (i.e., a global pandemic, an unprecedented staffing crisis, geopolitical issues, and the resulting impact on the global supply chain along with inflation), this confluence of events is new to all of us.

As the cloud of uncertainty remains, it is unclear how this will impact us as we continue with our recovery efforts. Your leadership team will need to continually monitor internal and external activities (and data) and be prepared to pivot as events unfold. The hospitality industry is resilient, and now is the time for all to come together as we continue to rebuild and retool.

The good news is that customer sentiment remains optimistic with regard to travel and while recovery is being led by leisure, demand is building for groups as well as corporate travel. With uncertainty comes opportunity. One small example of this is a new corporate travel segment that appears to be gaining momentum (i.e., the move to a hybrid work environment is creating new demand for hotels as corporate teams are brought together to collaborate beyond the computer screen.)

Knowland’s monthly data continues to show significant growth in meetings and events, with March meetings volume up 428 percent over last year. In speaking with customers and observing multiple industry channels, the view is that the impact of the current crisis will mainly be on leisure drive travel while the impact on meetings and events should be minimal.

A Call to Action

Technology continues to progress and as history has shown us–with great upheaval comes great innovation. As we retool and rebuild, I would challenge industry leaders to embrace situational leadership and to continue to test and pivot as things unfold. Be willing to accept that what worked yesterday, may not work today or tomorrow. If you can acknowledge that and be willing to make the necessary changes, you will be ahead of the game. Embrace the inner child view and remove the filters that prevent us from seeing what is possible.

From a data perspective, we often hear that the industry has too much data, but not enough information. But as data providers, we like to say, “the proof is in the data.” That being said, data is often disparate and can be challenging, particularly as it relates to turning it into actionable insights. Therefore, from a hospitality technology provider perspective the call to action for us is to work to come together and in doing so, truly inform, inspire, and guide action.

As technology providers, it is our role to ensure that the solutions we provide can be easily integrated into existing technology and in turn help our customers unlock the value of that data. In other words, we need to put down our competitive natures, for the benefit of the industry, and create solutions that are friction-free while avoiding the fractured solutions and information silos of the past.

In closing, I realize how hard it is to not get caught up in the craziness that surrounds us and the constant barrage of negative news. Challenge yourself, and in turn, your team, to be positive and bring positive energy to everything that you do. It starts with you….it starts with us! Let’s conquer this challenge together and be the spark of change.