Column Marije Breuker: ‘Small bright spots’

Since the beginning of this month, a number of measures against the spread of the coronavirus have been relaxed in many countries, small bright spots that I am very happy about! From various destinations I receive graphs full of data on what can and cannot be done in our field plotted on a timeline.

But how do I interpret the data while the virus is not yet under control? I have to blend these charts with the empathy and emotions of the various stakeholders in a project. So lots of consultation at different levels. Management may dare to take a trip, but to what extent can they require an employee to travel in a group? Will there be a second wave after the summer break? Who can guarantee that mouthguards will no longer be required in the fall? Let’s face it, an event with mouthpieces totally defeats the initial purpose of the travel experience.
What financial impact does this period have on the client’s budget? In short, many considerations and judgments are made and actually they all come down to the same thing. Better to stop half way than to go wrong. And so last week my two last beautiful bookings of this year were put on hold. As much as I understand and follow it all, it still hurts.

This week I also finally received an answer to a burning question (April 15!) to our State Secretary of Economic Affairs about the current regulations that actually make doing business in the travel industry impossible. The “high risk, low income” ratio overshoots the mark. I won’t make the argument too theoretical, but bottom line it strikes me that relevant officials have absolutely no idea how our (niche) industry works operationally. Frustrating that they then do set our rules and laws in the field.

Regulator ACM is already not heading the ball much better. Same cloth. There, too, it turns out upon inquiry that people have no idea how the incentive world works. So the rules and laws that apply have not been tested against our field of work. My hands are itching. And I also find this very worrisome and it makes me feel anxious. I’m sure things won’t change anytime soon, because before these government apparatuses start moving, let alone changing anything fundamental, we’re ages away. A lot further. And let’s just not have that time. Fortunately, our industry association is lobbying hard to create a more business-friendly perspective.

The incentive industry is a beautiful industry not only because of the executive projects, but also because of the atmosphere it has. Yes, there is competition, part of it, but the market knows and respects each other. Because together we are building the image, quality and future of our field. Since the Corona began to take on serious forms and especially impact, many entrepreneurs in this industry spontaneously united to form a MICE COLLECTIVE. How cool is that?

Acting together, sharing experiences, independently, offering a listening ear and providing each other with advice and motivation. It almost feels like family. As entrepreneurs, we all face the same issues, emotions and challenges. We understand each other like no other and that space is very nice. This week, after weeks of zooming, we had our first “live” event. (yes, within the new normal) Since we are literally all in the same boat, we metaphorically went for a nice sail as well. It was really wonderful to see the familiar and a few new faces. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this boat. We all agreed. These are exceptional and challenging times, but with all of them, every one of them beautiful companies among us, hopefully we are going to come back soon when the clients and destinations are ready. We are already ready and looking forward to it!

At the request of MICE & Business Travel, Marije Breuker, founder of Motivation Travel keeps a weekly diary about her experiences during the corona crisis. This is part 3.

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