He also said there is a movement toward requiring vaccinations for those attending meetings. A Destination Analysts survey this month showed that 39% of those polled support a vaccination mandate for conferences and conventions.
“That’s where the industry is heading,” Pate said. “You’re going to have to have proof of vaccine in order to enter a facility.”
Coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings and restaurants were lifted in Georgia earlier in the spring than in most states. That led to Georgia getting an outsized share of meetings business. Now that most of the country is open, “it’s starting to level out a little bit,” Vaughan said.
Now, average hotel occupancy in Atlanta is projected to be about 48% for 2021, versus hopes in July for a recovery to 51 or 52% for the full year.
Many convention planners are also holding off on booking big events even in 2026 and beyond. That’s because the historic disruption to business, travel and most other aspects of life has made it difficult for meeting planners to predict how many people will attend future conventions, according to Pate.
What’s more, conventions planned for other cities that were canceled because of the pandemic have in some cases rebooked in those places, preventing other areas from competing for that business, he said.
“It is putting some additional pressure on our booking pace,” Pate said.
He hopes there will be pent-up demand when planners resume booking large conventions for future years.