Amid COVID-19 pandemic, hospitality events find new dates

NATIONAL REPORT—Given the current climate due to the coronavirus outbreak, a number of meetings, events and conferences have been postponed or canceled, including those in our industry. These decisions to move the events to later in the year are all part of an effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), which was to hold its annual convention and trade show this month, has moved the event to August 9-12. It will still be held in Orlando, FL, at the Orange County Convention Center.

AAHOA President & CEO Cecil Staton cited the uncertainty facing hoteliers—and the need to focus on their business—as a reason for the move. “AAHOA is committed to bringing America’s hoteliers, our industry partners, and the hospitality industry the best possible convention and trade show,” he said. “The travel and tourism industry is facing uncertain times as the public’s perception of the risks posed by COVID-19 become the reality for America’s hoteliers. AAHOA members are reporting that occupancy, RevPAR and ADR are in distress. Hoteliers and our partners need this time to tend to their businesses as the travel and tourism industry adjusts to this new reality.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had declared a state of emergency in response to the growing threat of COVID-19 in early March, calling on Florida’s cities and counties to postpone or cancel mass gatherings.

Staton added, “While we are obviously disappointed in this turn of events, we are confident that rescheduling the convention is the right decision for our members, industry partners and our association.”

Similarly, the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) and StayBoutique have opted to move the annual New York Boutique Hotel Investment Conference—which usually takes place in June—to November 10, 2020. New York—and New York City in particular—had by press time become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

In an address regarding the decision, Frances Kiradjian, founder & CEO, BLLA, wrote, “As your trusted resource for all things boutique, we care deeply about our members and our global conference speakers, sponsors and guests and felt this was the right decision. We pray that the world heals quickly from this pandemic and our industry will soon be back to providing crucial services to the world’s boutique hotels, businesses, travelers and to their employees.”

HITEC San Antonio has also been postponed, moving from June to Oct. 26-29, 2020. HSMAI ROC Americas, which typically is co-located with HITEC, will take place Oct. 26-27.

Produced by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), the 48-year hospitality technology event is traditionally held annually in June. At this time, HFTP has determined to take a proactive approach by rescheduling for later this year to allow time for group gatherings to be safe once again, as well as give attendees and the hospitality businesses they represent some space to focus and strategize on their economic recovery.

“The hospitality technology community depends on HITEC to meet, share ideas and gain knowledge on the latest industry developments,” said HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe. “HFTP feels it would be a disservice to the industry to outright cancel HITEC in 2020; this type of interactivity is crucial for our stakeholders to build back business. Thus, we have committed to still produce HITEC this year with a shift in timing. Hospitality professionals will be able to discuss how best to use technology to accommodate efficiencies, while exhibitors will be able to work with their customers to meet these strategies.”

HSMAI ROC, where hotel revenue leaders unite for education, collaboration and innovation at the world’s largest gathering of revenue professionals in the travel industry, will have its main program at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio on Monday, Oct. 26, with Tuesday, Oct. 27, including HSMAI Chief Revenue Officer roundtables, CRME and CHDM review courses and Partner Insights sessions.

“HSMAI’s ROC has become the essential place corporate revenue leaders from over 120 unique hotel brands, management companies and ownership groups convene to discuss emerging trends and issues that directly impact the revenue and profitability of the hotel industry,” said Robert A. Gilbert, president/CEO of HSMAI. “This year, more than ever, it is vital that these thought leaders have the opportunity to come together to understand how to navigate the current landscape and lead the recovery of the hotel industry. We are thankful that we have been able to work together with HFTP to reschedule this year’s ROC to bring together the community of revenue leaders.”

And, in hotel design news, HD Expo + Conference, which had been scheduled for May 5-7, 2020, at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, has been canceled. Organizers cited recent developments regarding COVID-19 including, but not limited to, “the declaration of a national state of emergency by President Trump; the Nevada state of emergency announced by Governor Steve Sisolak; the latest measures, including travel restrictions placed on foreign nationals traveling to the United States from certain EU member states and other places; the declaration by the WHO of COVID-19 as a pandemic; and the accelerating pace of confirmed cases worldwide and domestically.”

For its part, NEXT Events has postponed All Aboard Design, a one-to-one matchmaking experience aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line until later this year. Originally planned for March 12-16, the cruise will now set sail Dec. 7-11, 2020.

All Aboard Design offers suppliers intimate meetings with pre-qualified, active buyers including interior designers and architects responsible for specifying products, along with hotel owners and operators, and procurement companies in an exclusive setting. The event spans a four-night itinerary and includes two days of one-on-one meetings aboard the cruise. During the day, leisure activities allow guests to connect with destinations amid the backdrop of the beauty that lies in the Caribbean ocean and landscape.

“All Aboard Design provides an intimate, exciting and relaxing environment for everyone,” said Michael Schneider, president/CEO of NEXT Events. “Our participants are welcome to bring loved ones to enjoy the ship amenities, cruise and large group leisure activities (e.g. sail, snorkel, and beach excursions). All Aboard Design gives decision-makers the opportunity to forge new relationships and close high-value sales within an exotic and beautiful destination.” HB