Concerns for Planners: Hospitality Labor Pools and AV Supply Chains – MeetingsNet

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Rob Carey | Nov 05, 2021

As the number of in-person business events increases because the number of Covid cases is decreasing in many regions of the country, planners need to pay attention to a couple of trends that could affect the quality of upcoming meetings. Even for virtual and hybrid events, one of those trends might cause complications as well.

First, the latest job figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that of the whopping 531,000 jobs created across the U.S. in October, 164,000 were in hospitality and foodservice—far and away the leading industry for job growth. For planners concerned about having sufficient service staff available for meetings, meals, and social events, this is welcome news. On the other hand, there’s still a long way to go to get back to the staffing levels meeting hosts were used to before the Covid pandemic. The proof: While employment in the foodservice and hospitality sector has risen by 2.4 million in 2021, it’s still down 1.4 million, or 8.2 percent, versus February 2020.

Second, the shortage of computer chips that has garnered headlines for its effect on industries ranging from personal electronics to automobiles is also creating uncertainty for in-person and virtual meetings that require audiovisual, production, and transmission equipment.

Annette Moody, senior vice president of product management, workforce & supply chain for Encore, the largest audiovisual- and production-services supplier in North America, recently told MeetingsNet that “although there is an obvious supply-chain issue in our industry, most suppliers still have a good amount of technology inventory available. At this stage, we’re not back to full demand, so in the short term our industry should be able to effectively support the current rate of business. I also feel that doing business with organizations like ours that own most of their own inventory should create a sense of confidence” for planners.

Screen Shot 2021-11-05 at 1.10.03 PM.pngEven so, Moody (pictured here) notes that all event-tech firms are scrambling “to fill the pipeline primarily for hybrid and virtual technology due to demand volume rather than [chip-related] shortage of inventory. Products such as cameras, internet technology, and streaming equipment are those that have the most pressing demand.”

“The challenge we are all having is the present lead time for events. We’re seeing a large portion of events book within a two-week window. Those types of lead times can make it challenging to create the best scenario, no matter the issues around supply-chain needs.”

Over time, however, the chip-shortage situation might take a greater toll on meetings. According to an article at Slate.com, “the chip problem has become so unmanageable that it’s on track to outlast the [Covid] lockdowns and facility closures that triggered the shortage in the first place.” A combination of issues regarding labor, manufacturing capacity, raw-material availability, and shipping bottlenecks are to blame, the article notes.

That’s something for planners to keep in mind as they plan the production elements of their 2022 events.

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