Meeting planners have taken matters into their own hands, proactively solving the situation

From 15 to 20 March 2020, most European countries have closed down their borders and implemented strict measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. This past week will be remembered as the time that our industry completely shut down. The editorial board of Kongres Magazine wanted to attain first-hand information from members of the meetings industry and hear their thoughts on the situation. The response from the public was very good and Kongres Magazine managed to reach 522 respondents from 35 countries. The survey provides interesting insight into the thought-process of meeting planners when it comes to critical, unpredictable changes like a global virus outbreak in our industry.

The most answers came from:

  • Austria 26
  • Croatia 25
  • Germany 24
  • Poland 23
  • Slovakia 21
  • Slovenia 20
  • UK 20
  • Belgium 19
  • Italy 19
  • Spain 19
  • USA 18
  • Ireland 17

The type of meeting planners that answered the survey:

  • Corporate meeting planner – 21.9 %
  • Event management agency – 21.9 %
  • PCO – Professional Conference Organiser – 14.8 %
  • Incentive travel house – 12.5 %
  • Association/NGO – 9.4 %
  • Independent – 3.9 %
  • Venue finding agency – 3.1 %
  • Government – 1.6 %
  • Other – 10.9%


When asked about the chances of getting sick with Coronavirus, 55% of meeting planners said their chances of getting sick are MEDIUM, 29.9 % of meeting planners think they are LOW, while only 15.1% think they are HIGH. 

Nearly 80% of respondents agree that all events should be canceled or postponed and less than 5% think we should continue to hold meetings in areas that are not significantly affected (if they even exist anymore).

  • I believe we should delay all meetings for the next few months 60.9 %
  • I believe we should cancel all meetings for the next few months 18.8 %
  • It should be handled on a case-by-case basis 11.7 %
  • We should continue to hold meetings in areas that are not significantly affected 4.7 %
  • Not sure, still gathering information 3.9 %

Travelling has become impossible in these past few days. 70.3 % of meeting planners said that their company has banned all travel globally for their employees and 4.7% are still monitoring the situation.

  • Yes, banned all travel globally 70.3 %
  • Yes, banned only nonessential travel globally 10.9 %
  • Yes, banned all nonessential travel to all affected locations 10.2 %
  • Not yet, but monitoring the situation 4.7 %
  • Other 3.1 %
  • No restrictions 0.8 %

39.8 % of respondents have taken matters into their own hands, proactively solving the situation and making timely decisions to address the situation. This is something we are really happy about. We call this group of people PIONEERS. 51.6 % of meeting planners are EARLY FOLLOWERS, who actively collect external information and react promptly. Only 8.6% are LATE FOLLOWERS, who rely on external information.

  • Early follower — actively collects external information and reacts promptly 51.6 %
  • Pioneer — acts proactively and makes timely decisions to address the situation 39.8 %
  • Late follower — relies heavily on external information 8.6 %
  • Lone ranger — imposes very little change 0.0 %


We asked meeting planners about what they see as the biggest risks for their business:

  • Liquidity Risk 37.50 %
  • Interest Rate Risk 14.17 %
  • Purchasing Power Risk 14.17 %
  • Tax Risk 11.25 %
  • Political Risk 10,42%
  • Legislative Risk 8,75%
  • Other 3,75%

– No income
– Bankruptcy
– Losing members as they deal with more urgent priorities
– Long term economic issues for our clients resulting in loss of future work
– Loss of business / laying off and subsequently loosing staff
– Global economic breakdown risk
– Generally all PEST Factors

We asked meeting planners to estimate how much their profits will decrease in 2020 because of the virus outbreak. The fact that most meeting planners think their profits in 2020 will suffer greatly because of COVID-19 are very alarming.

40% decrease in profits – 31,1 %
60% decrease in profits – 25.4 %
80% decrease in profits – 22.1 %
20% decrease in profits – 17.2 %
100% decrease in profits – 4.1 %

In these hard times, we need:

  • Information 35.52 %
  • Ideas 26.64 %
  • Inspiration 22.39 %
  • Insights 15.44 %

The respondents were also asked for their alternative event formats choices. The five most common answers were:

  • Webinars
  • Video conferences
  • Hybrid events
  • Small team events
  • Live Streaming


These were their answers when asked about the most trust-worthy-sources of information:

  • The local or national government 40.3 %
  • Health professionals 34.1 %
  • News 17.1 %
  • Other 3.9 %
  • Social Media 3.1 %
  • Friends, family 1.6 %

Additional answers:

Not Donald Trump
Scientific and governmental sources
Specialized websites
Our global management team task force of about 100 talents working together

Thoughts on the COVID-19 situation

“Many companies will disappear, especially small ones like ours in Spain. We will have to rethink our business and how to continue … Thanks to Kongress Magazine for this survey and the possibility of expressing ourselves in the face of such a difficult situation. We will read your conclusions”

“A disaster but health is more important!”

“Many companies will be experiencing difficult times in terms of cash flow and tax payments. It depends how long it will take … many jobs will be eliminated unfortunately. Governments must act rapidly to give financial support to mice and travel industry”

“We need to help us each other… COVID-19 is a sickness, not the end of the world”

“COVID is overhyped by media and politicians due to media pressure and it will kill a min. of 25% of our industry permanently”

“It will be a big challenge not only for organisers, associations and meeting planners but also for the meeting industry suppliers. Some companies might not survive this if not supported well by their governments. Still it is a chance for new ideas, new development, strategies and a more sustainable meeting culture in the future.”

“It is an unplanned hardship that has come really hard on our industry. One can never be prepared for such a situation, but I Guess people will learn from this and start inculcating clauses to cover for such eventualities while contracting.”

“Fear is a bad adviser”

“It has devastated the meetings industry and those who work in it.”

“I think we should use this time of less work to rethink, reorganize and prepare ourselves to be more than ready when the market and the travelling industry opens again. Maybe reinvent ourselves.”

“I think, especially in Italy and Lombardy where I live, that the meeting industry will come slowly to a normal situation not before the end of the year 2020. COVID-19 has been a tragedy for Italy’s Economy but we are strong and will survive.”

“It will change our industry dramatically after. Darwin will come to mind again, this will be the survival of the fittest and smartest. It looks like our business plan for 2025 will be happening sooner than thought…”

“If the crisis continues for more than 3 months it will ruin many businesses. Many companies will go under the ice. We still don’t know how the market will react after the pandemic. How long the economic effect will last. Support from the governments through a package of financial measures and business solidarity is crucial in these moments.”

All data in the survey was gathered by Kongres Magazine according to GDPR regulations and our privacy policy.