Shannon Licygiewicz is the director of sales for the Albany Capital Center, a premiere event space that is part of the Capital Complex. Shannon has worked in the convention center industry for 15 years and holds CEM certification.
Preparing to Book Your First Post-COVID-19 Event
It’s safe to say no one knows precisely what the future will hold in the post-COVID-19 world. Things change by the day, from the science surrounding the virus to CDC and state guidelines for safety. As a convention center whose reason for existence is to bring various size groups of people together, we are constantly researching the latest best practices from all sources, so we’ll be ready to keep our attendees safe when our convention center reopens for “The New Business as Usual”.
For event planners, it will also be a challenging time, as you look to make the best decisions for your event attendees. It will be a balancing act of alleviating their fears and making sure you are asking your booking facility what their updated action plans include. We encourage you to reach out to your facility to see what plans they have put into place already and what they plan on doing in the future.
Here are some things you can be thinking about when booking your next event, along with a glimpse into what facilities are thinking about:
Research Best Practices in Hospitality
Every restaurant has had to rapidly adapt and update their food safety standards because of the pandemic. This change in strategy is no different for our catering partners: they are working hard behind the scenes preparing for how their service structure will now need to change.
There are things we will likely have to implement — including contactless service, more “grab-and-go”-style buffets, upgraded box meal options, attended coffee stations, individually packaged snack breaks, disposable silverware and plates. These creative options will be key in helping the convention center’s clients feel at ease when bringing their groups back together. While it’s hard to know what will be considered the standard, our catering partners will continue their already strong safety practices, while adding additional precautions in compliance with the CDC guidelines; such as temperatures taken daily, touch-free delivery and drop offs, and individually packed food items, to make a few.
While convention center cleanliness has always been a priority, this pandemic has introduced a whole new meaning of the word. Our housekeeping staff is working hard to plan on what will need to be done once guests are allowed back into our building. From constantly sanitizing touch points, changing protocols for doors being wedged open, frequent changing of linens on tables, and trying to eliminate any shared surfaces, our cleaning staff will play a vital role in reopening safely.
Upgrading Our Tech
There may be a period when the convention center is permitted to reopen under attendance limits and mandates. Investing in new technology now could help your clients connect with participants who are not physically in the building.
Working with convention center staff and A/V partners to have livestreaming and recording equipment for on-demand viewing of events could lead to recouping lost revenue. At our facility, we already have a robust Wi-Fi system in place to allow for streaming and teleconferencing options; other facilities may be considering upgrading.
Something as simple as handing a ticket to a staff member, scanning it and handing it back could be over. Are there ticket scanners that offer a larger scan range to keep staff members and attendees at a safe distance? It’s something that we as an industry need to consider. Are there ways to eliminate paper tickets to limit the number of surfaces that can contain germs?
Have you been contacted by one of your attendees with a specific concern you can address? Communication has always been a key part of our jobs, but our clients need to feel that we are their partners. They need to know we’re here not just to plan and execute a great event, but to keep their attendees healthy and safe.
Efforts are being made to make new materials that can be passed along to event planners and event attendees as to the changes to expect and what the facility is doing to keep them safe. You can ask for these materials and provide them in advance to your event attendees.