“COVID-19 has severely decimated our industry”
Interview with Mark Spivey, Director of International Sales at Maritim
Mark Spivey, Director of International Sales at Maritim, has spoken with the eventcrisis-team and has generously shared some of Maritim’s key learnings from the ongoing crisis. In this conversation he also emphasized on the major role of health matters for the hospitality sector in the future.
Eventcrisis: Can you share some of the challenges and changes you are currently seeing within the meetings industry?
Mark Spivey: Of course, most of today’s key challenges revolve around the COVID-19 pandemic. It has severely decimated our industry and it will take a long time before we can expect a full comeback. This is due to the paramount economical, health and safety aspects. One of our challenges will be meeting the new norm until researchers have found a vaccine and international travel can commence again. This new norm will most likely limit our business to the domestic market and smaller meetings for up to 250 people. However, nowadays an event for 250 people will require the space that would have been needed for 1.000 people prior to the crisis. This is, in turn, one of Maritim’s great chances as we have large event spaces located in the key destinations.
Is there anything specific that your properties are doing differently these days in order to address the health challenges we are currently dealing with?
Oh definitely! Respecting the different state laws, we have been able to re-open some of our hotels in certain locations within Germany. Obviously, this is only possible because we are meeting the new norms and are following the new regulations closely. One of these regulations has actually led us to suspend our breakfast buffet, for example. Of course, we have also had to adapt other services, but our top priority is to ensure our customers’ and staff’s safety.
Do you have any advice for planners who are nervous about group bookings?
It is understandable for planners and their clients to be nervous – especially if we are talking about international travel. Nonetheless, Germany has received well deserved and excellent feedback so far. Even though it boasts the largest European population with close to 90 million people, it has still managed to maintain a relatively low number of corona related deaths compared to other countries. The health care system and extensive testing have played a key role in achieving this. Similar cases can be found in South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. Planners can count on these strategies and positive developments when planning their future events in Germany.
What would you say are the Top 3 lessons learned from this crisis?
Firstly, it has been astonishing to see how quickly things can change within only 6 weeks – the world has gone from a relatively normal state to an absolute disaster without any real warning. This leads to my second point: The only way of dealing with this crisis is to follow a cohesive approach, but governments have failed to do so by acting on their own. Lastly, the crisis has corroborated my personal priorities: Family takes top priority and is followed by friends and then colleagues.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Surely, health matters will continue to play a major role in the future. Travelers, particularly international travelers, must have access to relevant health information before attending events. There will also be significant changes regarding insurance coverage for events as well as contract terms. I believe that we will be seeing a rising market demand for flexible contracts. And lastly, the crisis affects all sectors within the business events industry. Some of the players within these sectors will need some time to bounce back and until then, there will only be a limited selection of partners, suppliers and providers available.