Hosting in-person meetings and events in a world affected by COVID-19 requires major adjustments and smart safety measures – from waivers to COVID-19 testing; daily temperature checks to mask wearing and social distancing. Implementing these protocols takes creativity and skill, and as we enter this new age of travel, they will shape the constantly evolving meetings industry.
In our last webinar, Lauren Andrews, director of site selection, and Kowana Ragland, senior director, were joined by Christine Hilgert, CMP, to share their experiences with in-person site visits and events in today’s normal. Here’s our main takeaways:
Protocols and Communication
Everyone has different comfort levels amid the pandemic. To help meet varying levels of comfort, implementing safety protocols for each interaction is key.
In August, Kowana helped execute this event for our biomedical client. They communicated as much as possible before and during the event about the safety measures that would be put in place, both by the group and the hotel.
Face masks were required, a nightly curfew was enforced to eschew late-night socializing, and temperatures were taken daily.
At the start of each day, attendees visited private booths manned by medical professionals to have their temperature taken. After receiving a satisfactory read, each attendee was given a colored sticker to wear on their badge throughout the event space.
To keep the risk factor low, each attendee and staff member received two COVID-19 tests prior to traveling for the event. They took one test before and one test after. With this data, our client was able to confidently say they had no cases of COVID-19 from their event.
During Lauren’s site visit, the convention and visitors Bureau (CVB) sent the protocols in place by the city and hotels. The CVB even let Lauren and her clients know that she had taken a COVID-19 test and was negative to make them feel safer. They even provided Lauren and her clients with their own PPE care kits and the hotels checked their temperatures upon arrival.
For participants to feel at ease, extra space to stretch out was key. The event organizers for the biomedical client created a smart assigned seating plan so that each attendee sat in the same chair in each session for the duration of the event.
In addition, special consideration was made for their walking path: attendees were given directions to use certain entrances and exits to mitigate foot traffic and bottle necking.
Due to the timeframe of the program, plated meals were not an option, so Kowana worked closely with the hotel to figure out how to safely have a buffet. The buffet and coffee stations had plexiglass and a masked server, so attendees did not touch anything until they received their food. They could also scan a QR code to see the buffet menu each day to ensure the line moved at a steady pace. In addition, tables were set for four per table to ensure proper distancing.
When it comes to site visits, it’s important to understand your client’s comfort level to ensure peace of mind with transportation and restaurant dining. For example, some clients may feel fine eating inside, and some may not, so have a conversation before making any arrangements. Since space is limited in a vehicle, it’s doubly important to familiarize yourself with your client’s comfort level when it comes time to commute somewhere.
We’re pleased to report no cases of COVID-19 from our 150+ person event and recent site visits.
In today’s current normal, we’re coming to the table with innovative ideas to help you get together with your audience. From a general session that feels good enough to sprawl out in, to touchless registration options, we can help you visualize your next small event.