by Susan N Losurdo, CMP, LES
Zika- is it really all it is being hyped to be?
It was all the talk at the start of 2016. The hospitality industry was reacting and bracing for the worst. The panic we saw in January seemed to almost fizzle. Travel providers and meeting planners report that travel has not slowed but rather remained steady. But now we approach spring and summer weather that is more prone to the Zika Mosquito.
The press is touting Zika as the next endemic. The US Government is redirecting federal funds to prepare for the potential Zika crisis. However, other resources are promoting it as a non-serious low risk infection.
While the US CDC reports on Zika in the USA, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, other destinations are left to self-report. This means that there is no standard method of measure or reporting though out the world and data is very skewed.
How to answer the question, is Zika significant or sensationalized? Hard to say with such varied information and responses out there. The reports seem to change daily. We will continue to learn more but for now all we can do is keep abreast of current conditions and do our best to keep our event attendees safe.
What do planners need to consider if they are bringing clients to a location with Zika, or considering canceling/moving?
While the Zika virus is usually mild and of short duration, it is the responsibility of the Meeting Planner and the organization’s Security Team to inform attendees of any particular hazards to personal safety and security presented by the destination. While some organizations will move forward with events, general precautions (wearing long sleeves/pants, staying inside with air conditioning, spraying clothing with repellant, and sleeping with mosquito nets) can greatly reduce the risk of exposure to Zika. An organization may consider providing preventative items such as repellants and nets upon request and having medical staff onsite. Alternatively, an organization could offer a hybrid option, where people can attend the event live or online if they are concerned about traveling. This may be of particular interest to pregnant women who seem to be at the highest risk. Should an organization feel it necessary to cancel/move an event, contract clauses will need to be examined to insure financial protection. Work with hotel chains to move from one hotel to another property within the chain to minimize penalties.
A wealth of information for hospitality professionals can be found on the following links:
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website:
Business Travel Coalition Zika Travel Resource Center: http://www.businesstravelcoalition.com/zika.html#.VypZbYQrLIU
M&C Magazine Zika News Resource:
Susan N Losurdo, CMP, LES is a Global Meeting & Event Management Professional with over 15 years of extensive experience as an Author, Consultant, Corporate Meeting Manager, and Hotel Supplier. She currently works as a Meeting & Events Consultant. Managing seamless events for clients and promoting the Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP) philosophy. Susan has co-authored the “Meeting & Event Planning Playbook” as well as a “Crisis Management Guide”. She speaks and instructs at the university level on topics related to hospitality and event management.
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