Meetings and incentive travel organisers and destinations looking to host events must adapt to increased security measures to secure business, an expert has claimed.
Martine Ainsworth-Wells, a specialist destination consultant, said that meetings organisers needed to find a balance between convenience and delegate duty-of-care against a backdrop of increase security at airports and venues.
Speaking at the inaugural Connections Meetings forum in Portugal, Ainsworth-Wells said destinations and venue suppliers now had to present robust security credentials and slick accessibility if they are to attract business.
“Security and accessibility are two of the top factors in the decision making processes,” she said.
“The bar has been raised. Increased security will increase the amount of time it takes to get in and out of a destination or venue. The destinations that will win in the future are those making life very easy [for travellers and delegates].”
Ainsworth-Wells is a specialist destination consultant focused on cities and countries that are hosting major events or that have experienced major crises, and is a former head of marketing communications for London & Partners.
Assessing the future for some of the destinations affected by recent attacks, she predicted that Paris would bounce back faster than countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.
Speaking about the latter, she said: “They are going to feel an immediate impact. Event organisers are not too dissimilar to leisure travellers in as much as they want to be comfortable with a destination. They want delegates to feel safe.”
However, she added that the frequency and random nature of terror attacks meant society was entering a “new normal” period which could benefit established destinations such as Paris.
“The landscape has really changed since 2005, when terrorist attacks in country were still rare. Following 9/11 there were isolated, albeit serious, incidents in Madrid and London. But the frequency and randomness are on the rise. You don’t expect to be shot at on a beach in Tunisia, for example.
“What it means is that the world becomes a more even playing field for consumers; it is becoming normal. You can’t choose anywhere that will absolutely guarantee your security.”
Ainsworth-Wells said Madrid and London both demonstrated that western cities have “big shock absorbers” in terms of reacting and recovering to attacks.
And as such, she expects Paris to make a speedy recovery following two of the major incidents in the last 12 months. “The fact there were two attacks in such a short space of time is obviously not good,” she said.
“But Paris will recover; it might take a bit longer, but its shock absorbers are strong enough.”
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