The Return of Group Meetings and Events: HEDNA 2021 Conference Recap

November 5, 2021
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In-person events, specifically industry conferences, are slowly returning during the last quarter of 2021, more than a year after COVID-19 first disrupted travel and meetings across the globe.

Onyx’s Jim Casale, VP, Product, Global Payments, and Dee Thomas, Product Director, Emerging Payments, attended HEDNA’s 2021 Global Distribution Conference from October 11-12 in Miami, FL.

Onyx CenterSource at HEDNA 2021 Global Distribution Conference

HEDNA’s (Hotel Electronic Distribution Networking Association) 2021 event highlighted insights from hospitality industry leaders describing the latest trends for distribution and payments. Breakout sessions took a deep dive into the future and what to expect during recovery.

Throughout the conference, HEDNA followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding in person gatherings to provide a safe and healthy environment and make attendees feel safe.

Casale said that he felt completely safe throughout his time at the conference due to protocols in place. “HEDNA took proper safety precautions for the event, including socially distanced auditorium seating for the larger sessions, conveniently-placed sanitizing stations and requiring attendees to wear masks in general sessions and while walking the conference hall and other common areas.”

Thomas, who has been attending HEDNA conferences for several years, said that attendance at this year’s U.S. based conference was about half of what it was in recent years.


She served as a HEDNA Board Member for 6 years and was the Education Committee Chair during that time. Over the years, Thomas has been active in various HEDNA committees, including Standards and Payments, and has served as a chair on both the Content working group and the Open Payments Alliance working group. Thomas was the recipient of the HEDNA Award of Excellence in 2016. “With a smaller number of attendees, it was easier to find the people I wanted to connect with, so I enjoyed the more intimate setting this year,” stated Thomas. She also noted the benefit of being able to plan who you will meet with during in-person conferences, compared to virtual events, which require different preparation.

Casale noted a general sense that leisure travel is recovering and, in some areas, it’s doing better than pre-COVID levels. “We saw a chart in one of the conference sessions showing Las Vegas travel is up,” stated Casale. “People are traveling more for leisure these days but are staying close to home thus far, with mostly domestic travel where they feel safer.”

Onyx CenterSource at HEDNAAt his first live HEDNA conference, Casale also noticed a general sense of restarting, especially among hotels.


“Hotels are coming out of the crisis mode initially brought on by the lack of travel when the COVID-19 pandemic began. As recovery continues, they’re taking a fresh look at operations and are open to trying new, more efficient ways of running business, including opportunities for automation.”

As a payment technology company, Onyx CenterSource offers B2B payment solutions for hospitality companies worldwide. Get it touch today to learn more about Onyx’s B2B payment solutions.


Register for a free demo of GroupPay, Onyx’s comprehensive automated system that provides the vital link between hotels and meeting planners, ensuring unparalleled transparency and efficiency to track and manage events.

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