To Navigate the Future, the Industry Must Win Stakeholders’ Confidence

Hosts and attendees are weighing their own safety against the importance of face-to-face connections—and they must have trust.

It’s been a painful year for everyone, and that’s especially true for everyone involved with our industry. Associations, hospitality, and meetings were all abruptly stopped when the pandemic hit, but we can and will continue to rebound heartily. The key to doing so will be earning and keeping the confidence of our clients and attendees.

At all MGM Resorts International properties and venues, everything we do throughout the process puts the health and safety of our customers and guests at the center. This is the foundation of our Convene With Confidence program, and its fundamentals are essential for the whole industry to thrive going forward. After piloting and testing our program, here are key learnings we all must follow.

We must communicate our protocols clearly and effectively.

Our goal throughout the crisis has been continuous communication with all of our customers. We’re letting everyone know how we’ve used this time to elevate our safety protocols and our technological capabilities. It’s critical that we all make people feel confident to host and attend.

Communication is now more important than ever. Venues must communicate to meeting planners and meeting planners to attendees so that when attendees get on site, they fully understand what the protocols are and we meet their expectations. Attendees need to know exactly what their experience will be as they come back face to face.

We must execute these protocols precisely and consistently.

The second piece is not just communicating safety but also ensuring it across food and beverage protocols, sanitization processes, on-site testing, and more.

Managing schedules, traffic flow—we can all take these risk-mitigating steps. That’s how we find a way to let people meet successfully, which it’s clear we’re all craving. But hospitality needs to go as far above and beyond as possible.

Here, we’re offering virtual site inspections and pre-planning services. We’re also bringing together cutting-edge Health Pass technology from CLEAR, a rapid portable COVID-19 test, and expert health providers from Impact Health. The goal is to create safer environments and ecosystems across our venues. This new partnership offers a pivotal layer of safety by integrating testing and screening into an easy-to-track credential. It’s a comprehensive way to mitigate risk for large-scale group events.

We must embrace a hybrid future.

Yes, face to face is always going to be best. And yes, meetings are going to come back stronger than ever. But hybrid and virtual components won’t go away. They’re how we’ll get people that may not otherwise be able to come to an event—a larger crowd, an international crowd—even after the pandemic. This is not a threat to our business or to our guests’ experience; rather, it’s additive for everyone.

We all should ask ourselves: How can we provide that authentic experience for attendees? It’s not just sitting at a desk watching a screen. Here in Vegas, attendees can go to a Lady Gaga concert. But if you’re at home, you get to be with your spouse or your loved ones sitting on the couch and you’re still watching Lady Gaga.

It’s about creating experiences. We’re experimenting with mailers so that virtual attendees can be part of the chef presentation or chef demo cooking class, just as they would at the hotel. The same capabilities an attendee would have on the show floor is what we need for those who aren’t physically at the property.

The reason people go to conventions and trade shows is to meet people and connect for future business opportunities, networking, and more. Hosts must provide those capabilities no matter where the guests are, whether they’re in their home, in their office, or on the trade show floor. It’s all about digital transformation.

We must unite under these shared commitments and goals.

MGM Resorts was among the first to shut down its resorts in March, even before the legislative mandate, as health and safety remained paramount. But now as we’ve reopened and continue to rebuild our business, we’ve been safely convening groups again for months. As other organizations and other attendees find out that these events are happening successfully, it gives us peace of mind that we can all get back to business.

We must all contribute to both committing to rigorous protocols and messaging these new strategies; it’s how we can all contribute to bringing back face-to-face meetings as a whole. This is the solution to get people back in person and feel safe doing it. I’m happy to say that we piloted it and tested it, and it really does give people confidence that you are minimizing their risk within that meeting space.

Every type of organization in the industry shares the burden of risk. The risk can’t be all on the association, all on the venue, all on the attendee. We’re all responsible. By working together to meet—and exceed—these commitments to safety and the industry’s future, we will all thrive.

This article was produced by the SVP and Chief Sales Officer of MGM Resorts, Stephanie Glanzer. MGM Resorts International offers 4 million square feet of meeting and convention space at its properties across the country. Advanced designs feature robust and creative meeting options to meet the ever-changing needs for collaborative and productive workspaces. To learn more, view our available venues across our portfolio, including Las Vegas.