MANILA - Physical events will never go away as Filipinos are very social by nature and need to test out products they are looking to buy in person, SMX Convention Center vice president and general manager Agnes Pacis said Friday.
This brings hope for a revival of the events industry, which has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, where mass gatherings are prohibited.
"Filipinos are social animals, so to speak. We’re very tactile people, we’re very social...There are products that need to stimulate the senses. You need to touch, you need to smell and you need to be able to see it personally and that will never go away," Pacis told ANC.
Pacis said the group's convention centers were "reimagined" during the lockdown. Their spaces can transform into RT-PCR testing centers, satellite kitchen and licensure or board exam centers, among other uses, she said.
SMX is also preparing to become a vaccination venue for private firms.
The firm also invested in hardware such as thermal scanners, alcohol dispensers, ventilation systems, PPEs, facial recognition technology, among others, to ensure the safety of their premises, Pacis said, adding that these would incur no added cost to customers.
Workers were also trained to implement new safety measures, she said.
"I think it’s just morally wrong to be charging so much more at a time when every industry, most industry, especially the meetings and business events industry, is aching," she said.
Like most businesses, it would probably "take longer to break even," Pacis said.
The Philippines imposed one of the world's longest-running lockdowns in March last year to stem the spread of COVID-19. The measure shuttered businesses, prohibited large gatherings and halted most public transport.
Economic activities have since started to gradually return following the easing of restrictions.