The priority is to rebuild the demand for incentive travel services. SOIT summarizes actions during the pandemic and discusses the prospects for the MICE industry.

On 6-7 September at the BoniFaCio Hotel, the 5th Congress of the Incentive Travel Organizers Association took place. SOIT members summarized the crisis activities and other initiatives that were focused on supporting members and the industry during the pandemic, and discussed the future of the market in the Covid-19 era.

"Every year in September we meet to exchange knowledge, experience and take stock of the past months. It was a unique reunion, at a unique time. We were happy to meet again. In our organization, relationships are very important and we can exchange ideas, but also share doubts and threats. And most of all, we simply talk honestly about our problems. This is a special value in this difficult time for everyone.  We would like to thank all members of SOIT for their presence, mobilization and willingness to continue working for the entire incentive industry. - says Olga Krzemińska-Zasadzka, CEO of SOIT.

During the congress, the Board summarized the activities and initiatives in which SOIT has participated since the beginning of 2020:

  • Monitoring information about coronavirus from reliable sources - WHO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, GIS

  • Internal meetings of members and exchange of experience

  • Legal consultations concerning the interpretation of Art. 47 par. 4 of the Act on IT and PUT,

  • Preparation of SOIT positions and messages on the incentive market situation in the Covid-19 era,

  • Supporting members in discussions with airlines and hotel chains around the world to promote the Goodwill Policy approach,

  • Online training on legal aspects,

  • Participation in discussions of representatives of tour operators and insurers on guarantees, travel insurance and amendment of paragraph 3 of the Regulation on the minimum amount of bank and insurance guarantees required in connection with activities carried out by tour operators and entrepreneurs facilitating the acquisition of related travel services,

  • Activity of SOIT representatives in the meetings industry staff #Tugether

  • Providing knowledge to members about: aid programs, individual scenes of the Anti-Crisis Shields, ZUS abolition, salaries subsidies from labour offices, PRF subsidies,

  • Collecting questions and identifying problems related to the submission of applications for PFR financial subsidies (verification of applicants accounting for VAT-margin and mixed system) and interventions in this area in the Polish Development Fund,

  • Applying to PFR for individual consideration of members' cases,

  • Letters to institutions with applications for assistance to companies omitted from PFR subsidies,

  • Preparation, in cooperation with other organizations, of letters to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Development and appeals concerning the situation in the meetings industry, tourism and the necessary sectoral assistance,

  • Activity of SOIT representatives in the Crisis Staff of the Ministry of Development - participation in consultations with the Ministry of Regional Development at the stage of building aid programs and creating frostbite protocols, as well as the shield for tourism and events

  • Writings and actions to change the meeting guidelines and the flight bans,

  • Writings and activities aimed at introducing amendments to the act of the so-called "shield for tourism",

  • Participation in media debates on the situation of incentive travel, business trips and tourism in general.

  • Active in the media, expert statements on the situation in the industry for the press, radio and television.

Since May SOIT is a member of the Employer of the Republic of Poland organization, which actively participates in the work of the Council for Social Dialogue and participates in the legislative processes with an advisory voice. The membership of SOIT in the initiatives undertaken by the Employers of the Republic of Poland has an impact on better representation of the interests of the meetings and tourism industry in the circles of state administration and on the business market. Since July SOIT is also a member of the Entrepreneurship Council at the Ombudsman for Small and Medium Enterprises and works in the Working Group for Tourism, Meetings and Leisure Industry. SOIT is also a founding member of the Meeting and Event Industry Council, which was established in July this year and associates 18 industry organizations.

The activities that SOIT will focus on in the coming months are:

  • Activities to support companies in the crisis and reconstruction phase

  • Communication and information activities to restore demand in the meetings industry

  • Creating a dialogue with the government on MICE

  • Valuation of the meetings industry

 "Our main task for the coming months is to rebuild the incentive industry and the entire meeting industry. We are focusing on the future, on re-creating reality and learning to operate in new conditions. We are pleased to hear from members that #New We meet, the first incentive travels since lockdown have taken place. Customers know that it is worth meeting and that motivation is needed more than ever. We know that the developed safety procedures allow to travel safely. What is important now is to integrate all activities, to make the demand come back, and here, reliable communication and a balanced information policy from the authorities is crucial. We appeal and will appeal to the relevant institutions in this matter". - explains Łukasz Adamowicz, Vice-President of SOIT.

The integration of members is also a constant element of the congress. The participants of the meeting took part in Speed Painting workshops, which in a unique way combine art with psychology and stress reduction. During the art therapy, the group involved in the creative process, went into the so-called state of flow, and as a result of the workshop unusual images were created. They will be exhibited at the Columbus Day charity auction, which is an annual CSR campaign organized by SOIT.

"Although the industry is in a difficult situation, we are looking for solutions and ideas to continue our flagship projects like Columbus Day and maintain support for the foundation we have been working with for years. This is what "corporate social responsibility" is all about. - summarizes Olga Krzemińska-Zasadzka.

The congress ended with a discussion on the future of incentive travel and business travel through the eyes of agencies, aviation agents and insurers, with the participation of invited guests - representatives of AXA and Time4Travel.

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