Unprecedented times…the definition is ‘never having happened or existed in the past’. We have heard this term used so frequently over the last month. The next 4 to 6 months of corporate meetings and conferences have been wiped out in Cork. In some cases wiped out up to the end of the year as the uncertainty is too huge to ignore.
Our valued hotel members are suffering indescribable losses while our jobs at Cork Convention Bureau (CCB) have changed from generating new conference business, to maintaining existing business. We are delighted to report that 8 of our 10 large international, association conferences have agreed to postpone to 2021/22. While this is a loss of business to the local economy in 2020 of almost €5m, we now at least have the guarantee that it is not a permanent loss to the local economy!
#Postponedontcancel has been our newly adopted mantra at CCB and searching for new dates and updating systems has become our new normal.
In 2016 in conjunction with Failte Ireland’s business tourism unit, we secured the Aquaculture Europe Conference for Cork through the strong influence of our local conference ambassador, Prof Gavin Burnell UCC, along with equally strong local support in the form of our City and County Council and local trade. The appeal of Cork as a city and county destination won through, despite not meeting all the requirements of the international organisers. 1,500 delegates were on their way to Pure Cork in September 2020 and we were absolutely thrilled.
Fast forward to today, and while the conference is still scheduled to happen, we had to work quickly to secure a ‘Plan B’ set of dates and again this is where the collaboration of our local stakeholders came into its own. Venues were made available and assurances regarding Failte Ireland funding were given, which means this €2m piece of business will now still happen in 2020.
Life is different for now in our Visit Cork organisation. We’ve gone from being a closely connected small team of 4, to now only seeing each other on our team video calls – sometimes even scarily without makeup. We’ve gone from the excitement of organising promotional events with our hotel members and associate members, to our new desk jobs in our own homes. We have built up a strong reputation in Cork for driving business and developing great relationships with our members. We can do this because of our great stakeholder financial and practical support. We will undoubtedly be back winning business again soon and we look forward to being part of the whole regeneration process.
Fan socair agus lean ar aghaidh…
Cork Convention Bureau
‘Visit Cork is the official tourism body for the Cork region incorporating both leisure and business tourism in a single voice’