Hundreds of people attended the Third Annual Alliance Business Expo on February 12, 2020 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. The event, hosted by the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce in partnership with EDAWN, RSCVA and Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, was one of the last large-scale events of its kind to be held in Reno before the fallout from the pandemic did not strike a month later. Photo: Kaleb M. Roedel / NNBW


The handshake may not be back in full swing, but the days of the elbow bump seem almost numbered.

On May 13, the Western Nevada Economic Development Authority sent out its regular weekly newsletter filled with various business updates. In the newsletter, there was something missing for over a year: a list of upcoming in-person events.


Among these is the “Mid-Year Update and Collaboration between the Arts and Business Luncheon” scheduled for September 23 at the Silver Legacy in downtown Reno. The event inside the 19,360-square-foot casino’s Great Exhibition Hall will be the first in-person gathering hosted by EDAWN since the coronavirus pandemic pushed business events and conventions from physical venues to the digital realm.


While it may take four months, EDAWN’s plan to bring together hundreds of business professionals to catch up on the economy, network and share a meal without a laptop screen with each other is another sign of the return. to normal is approaching Truckee Meadows.


“It’s a big deal,” Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of EDAWN, told NNBW. “While at EDAWN we have been open throughout the pandemic, we have had to interact and socially distance ourselves in masks like everyone else. And there’s just a different vibe when you can look a person in the eye, see their facial expressions, and interact with them on a different level.


“By the time we get to September, it will take almost 18 months – it’s a long time for people to re-engage. And let’s face it, the human connection is very important and in many cases it has been missing.


MEETING VIDEO EXHAUST


Kazmierski pointed to the growing notion across the country, as well as here at Reno-Sparks, that many in the business world are suffering from Zoom exhaustion, in addition to COVID fatigue.


“Anyone who says Zoom works is laughing at themselves,” he says. “If it’s more than three
people, at least a third of them totally ignore the call, so it’s not very efficient… Looking at a screen during a one hour Zoom call caused a lot of fatigue.

While several factors ultimately led EDAWN to decide to put in-person events back on schedule, Kazmierski said rising vaccination rates in Washoe County and the state of Nevada, along with recent CDC guidelines according to which vaccinated people should not wear masks or social distancing in most cases, helped tip the balance.


This guidance from the CDC, which Governor Steve Sisolak quickly adapted to effectively lift most aspects of the Silver State Mask tenure, came on the same day, May 13, that EDAWN announced its full roster of meetings and events. in-person receptions to come – note, others. are scheduled for October 21, December 16 and January 27, 2022.


Kazmierski added that if the event capacity in Nevada is currently 500 people, that number will likely increase downward.


“There is a lot of time between now and September to increase the number of vaccinations and move towards collective immunity,” Kazmierski said. “We’re pretty confident that by September we’ll be ready to come back.


“We expect a return to normal this fall, less international travel and less major conventions.”


POWER UP


With other large-scale events and gatherings slated to return this summer – the main one in the short term, the 2021 Reno Rodeo will be at full capacity June 17-26 at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center – the region continues To see encouraging signs, its meeting and convention venues will eventually start to fill up and boost the economy this year and beyond.


As an example, on May 26, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority announced three large group events in the region that are expected to inject roughly $ 18 million into the northern Nevada economy.


Two of them are planned for this year: the climbing competitions in the United States from July 9 to 11 and from July 13 to 18 are expected to produce 5,000 overnight stays; and the 2021 Airports Council International (ACI) annual conference and exhibition will feature more than 800 airport executives, representing 2,400 overnight stays, in November, according to RSCVA.

The latter event was originally scheduled to take place in Toronto, but was moved to Reno due to COVID-related travel restrictions in Canada. RSCVA says it has also booked ACI to host another event in the region in the summer of 2022.

Meanwhile, the third event is scheduled for 2024 – a weeklong Shriners Hospitals for Children event from late June to early July, which is expected to generate 11,000 room nights.


“It is encouraging to see the demand for meetings and events matching the assortment of the offering at Reno-Tahoe,” said Charles Harris, President and CEO of RSCVA. “We are currently living a model where the post-pandemic model for short-term sporting event bookings is replicated by conventions and trade shows. When you look at the short-term recovery and incorporate the apparent return of traditional long-term booking windows, that’s a wonderful sign for the tourism economy of northern Nevada and the travel industry in general. “


Harris said RSCVA recently created a “Customer Advisory Board” with the goal of “attracting more of these events that have a global impact on this community.”


“As part of this forward-looking process, we invite meeting planners and decision-makers to consider them later,” said Harris. “We’re going to work hard to understand why people are booking here and why people may have stopped coming here and how we can make improvements.”


In early May, RSCVA reported that Washoe County saw its taxable room revenue drop just 0.5% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period a year ago. Rooms occupied for cash were down 6.4% year over year, while average daily rates were up 6.3%.


“It’s great to see things starting to open up,” said Harris. “The leisure segment is coming back. The fact that we’ve stayed open and delivered key messages – safe and responsible travel – and that the destination is what people want – the outdoors and nature – is a testament to the destination and the message we are were able to transmit. to cross.”



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