Finding a venue that can accommodate safe meetings or events will be a priority in the coming future.
While your organisation may be focussed on virtual events at this moment in time, hospitality, including venues and hotels, is in the process of reopening across the world.
Will in-person events resume?
It’s unlikely that events will immediately transition from virtual to in-person overnight. A good proportion of people will still be anxious about the virus, and hospitality business will have to follow guidelines in order to keep their guests safe. Hybrid events are more likely to become a post-COVID-19 reality.
Going for your weekly shop highlights just how much the Coronavirus has influenced us. Taking a tin of tomatoes off the shelf then putting it back or going down an aisle the wrong way because you forgot the carrots feel like small crimes (tell me I’m not alone). And giving anyone over the age of 30 an extra-wide birth just seems like a necessary precaution.
This same mindset is likely to continue in relation to events, which means when sourcing, you need to find venues that tick certain boxes. This article will explore how to find a great venue for safe events and provide RFP tips.
1. Hybrid events are the future
Virtual events have been working incredibly well ever since the pandemic started. So, it would seem illogical to remove the virtual element when it comes to in-person events.
A mix of the two is called a hybrid event, allowing for physical attendees and virtual. If this is something your organisation is considering, then you’ll need to find a venue with the capability to support your AV requirements.
A common misconception about hybrid events is that the virtual element is simply a livestream. In fact, a proper hybrid event requires audience participation.
Virtual participants should be able to engage with speakers, participate in Q&A sessions, and network with fellow attendees. The best hybrid events utilise technology to allow this to happen.
Not all venues will be technologically robust enough to handle requirements such as these.
Communicating these requirements clearly in your RFP is critical as once your event kicks off, you’ll want to feel secure that technically hiccups will be kept to a minimum.
HYBRID EVENTS – WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR RFP:
You’ll want to cover all bases, so make sure you come up with a list of hybrid event essentials. Essentials may include:
INTERNET BANDWIDTH AND CONNECTION SPEED:
Depending on the size of your event, you’ll need to know that the internet will be robust enough to support your chosen number of virtual attendees, plus your shiny hybrid event technology.
Does the hotel support 5G? Is their digital infrastructure top-of-the-line?
What extra space do they have for equipment? For example, on the stage area, is there enough room for lighting and cameras? If there will be breakout sessions, you’ll need to assess other meeting rooms too.
Dennis O’Brien, former senior project manager with Vimeo, says that power is one of the most important elements: “You need a venue with adequate power, enough to power all the cameras, lights, and audio,” he says. “We might plug in a few things, and all of a sudden, it trips the circuit board, and now we’re pulling our hair out,” he adds.
2. Check their food and beverage
When it comes to putting on safe meetings and events, ensuring your venue has good food and beverage strategies is critical. How they present the F&B, as well as the sanitation and food handling measures in place, both need to be assessed.
Buffet-style or hotpot dining won’t be a viable option for quite some time, which means the venue must have safe options.
Reducing risk is central to safe events – but they’re also about putting attendees at ease with the knowledge that you’re doing everything in your ability to keep them safe.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE – WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR RFP:
You’ll need to find out exactly what the hotel or venue is doing to keep attendees safe. In fact, the Victorian government recently released guidelines pertaining to safe events in collaboration with the hospitality industry. Some of these COVID-19 food and beverage guidelines include:
- Minimising the use of salt and pepper shakers on tables and disinfecting them if in use
- The number of condiments available on tables should be reduced where possible.
- All cutlery, crockery and beverage containers to be used with appropriate hygiene, cleaning and sanitation processes in place
- Using either laminated use or single-use paper menus and sanitising them after each use
3. Their health and safety measures
You’re most likely looking for hotels and venues that meet stringent health and safety requirements. Asking about their health and safety protocols should be top-of-mind.
Your RFP process must adapt to consider sanitisation and cleanliness, how they handle social distancing and the steps they’re taking to keep attendees safe.
HEALTH AND SAFETY – WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR RFP:
The top priority when it comes to safe events, as with F&B, should be what strategies the venue will employ to keep guests safe. You’ll need to ask:
WAYS IN WHICH THEY ARE MAINTAINING STANDARDS:
The Hilton, for example, have come up with a list of ways in which the hotels are upkeeping their health and safety measures:
- Adding room seals to each room door notifying that the room has not been accessed since its last thorough clean
- Disinfection of the most commonly used guest room areas
- De-cluttering paper amenities
- Improved guidelines for the disinfection of fitness centres within the hotels
- Increased frequency of cleaning
- Guest-accessible disinfecting wipes
- Contactless check-in
- Innovative disinfection technologies
DO THEY HAVE ANY NEW ACCREDITATIONS?
This may seem like an odd one, but it’s possible that hotels and venues may have accreditations relating to COVID-19. Hyatt recently announced the introduction of the ‘GBAC STAR’ accreditation through a performance-based cleaning, disinfection and communicable disease prevention program that focusses on establishing hotel environments that are sanitary, safe and healthy. Hyatt’s ‘GBAC STAR’ accreditation will include detailed training at more than 900 Hyatt hotels worldwide. Similarly, it’s possible that in the future hotel rooms may come with certifications to assure sanitisation.
It’s likely that many hotels and venues will be equipped with thermal scanning, as this is a must-have layer of security for event attendee. Ask if they have this in place.
4. How will they ensure social distancing?
How the venue or hotel manages social distancing will also be on your attendees’ minds. They will also want to know how you plan to keep everyone a safe distance from each other.
Before you submit an RFP, look for floorplans on the Cvent Supplier Network. If hotels and venues are using Social Tables, the floor plans should display on their profile. They should give you a good idea of their meeting space size, and whether they will be suitable to your event.
If a hotel hasn’t got floor plans enabled, you’ll see the meeting room grid instead, which gives you a good amount of information to go off. But for those of us who like to visualise the space, this tool is pretty handy.
SOCIAL DISTANCING – WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR RFP:
DIGITAL EVENT DIAGRAMMING TOOLS AND VIRTUAL TOURS:
When it comes to planning and hosting safe events, digital event diagramming tools and virtual tours are a great way to accommodate social distancing. Find out what the hotel uses because they help in a plethora of ways:
- They give attendees who may be anxious about the changing nature of events a peace of mind
- Satisfy all safety guidelines and set up spaces in accordance with social distancing measures
- Provide contactless check-in
- Ensure the room is big enough for expected attendance and avoid overcrowding
- Show the flow of attendees with arrows
- Set up hand sanitiser stations
HOW THEY ARE MAINTAINING SOCIAL DISTANCING STANDARDS:
Has the venue laid down arrows to indicate attendee flow? How far apart their tables and how wide is the aisle space?
To know about the best practices and guidelines that hotels are following to safeguard the health and safety of its guests, read our blog – InterContinental Sydney Double Bay: Your Venue for Safe Meetings