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Troubles with travel

Troubles with travel

Conference News reporter Louisa Daley says eventprofs must be adaptable when travelling in this post-pandemic world.

In response to the pandemic, our industry has had to adapt to change rapidly – from the adoption of emerging technologies and remote working to short lead times and last-minute event cancellations.

As of late, we’ve also been faced with new transport challenges, such as flight cancellations or delays and train strikes – which have the potential to impact events more than we originally thought.

This got me thinking, as eventprofs, we must be adaptable and always have a backup plan.

My experience

I had to adopt this approach when I recently went abroad in June, which according to Sky News, was Gatwick’s highest month of flight cancelations with one in every 14 flights cancelled.

After a relaxing break, I found out my return flight was no different– and was cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice due to staffing issues.

This reason didn’t surprise me. There’s no denying that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the travel sector. With Covid-19 restrictions lifting, the demand for travel has risen both for leisure and business reasons, while airport staff are not returning to the industry – sound familiar eventprofs?

However, the news did leave me in a challenging position – not only did I not have accommodation or extra clothes, I also didn’t budget for additional spending.

When I arrived at the airport for my rescheduled flight the next morning, I found out it was postponed for an additional eight hours. My flight was then cancelled leaving me, and many other passengers, right back where we started.

The good news? I managed to fly home the next day, (third time lucky) – albeit with additional delays.

For the extra three days I was stuck abroad, I had no choice but to adapt to the situation. I searched for the nearest, cheapest rooms I could find, filled out compensation forms and ensured I knew my passenger rights.

What can event organisers do?

I know that I’m not alone in this experience. According to virtual events software provider EventsX, almost half of event goers (43%) have been late to, or even missed an event due to travel issues. The research also found that over half of individuals (54%) have been unable to attend an event because it was too difficult to get to.

With the ongoing travel issues, event organisers must keep the accessibility of events in mind.

Consider what measures should be put in place to support your delegates. For example, should you fly your delegates out the day before the event begins? Should your registration desk be staffed longer? Or should you implement a hybrid option?

Event organisers are not the only ones who can be prepared. According to airport guidance, travellers should consider the day and time that they fly. To this end, travellers should avoid flying during peak times, instead opting to fly between 10am-2pm. They should also travel from smaller airports, as with less airlines operating, there’s more room to accommodate delays.

As I’m writing this, the news was, and still is, full of travel chaos.

There’s an expected rail strike tomorrow (27 July) – which is expected to close half of the UK network and impact events such as the Women’s Euros and the Commonwealth Games.

The most important thing to remember, fellow eventprofs, is to be prepared and be ready to adapt to any given situation.

If your event has been impacted by travel delays/cancellations – get in touch with the CN team.