How COVID-19 May Change Future in-person Meetings

How COVID-19 May Change Future in-person Meetings

In-person meetings are still a topic under discussion within the industry, but COVID-19 will likely affect future meetings in many ways – one of the most notable being room and seating configuration.

Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) recently posted a discussion about how to manage social distancing at future events, and a few of the participants had suggestions for how they plan to tackle this challenge when it comes to room setup.

Jennifer Stewart of the International Association of Chiefs of Police shared her team’s brainstorming ideas for educational session rooms and theater-style seating. She’s hopeful that by October, they will set up small groups of chairs near one another while still accommodating the social distancing recommendations. For example, she set up columns of two chairs, each with six-foot aisles in between, and having increased distance between chair rows – which is essentially a theater setup with an increased number of corridors.

For registration lines, hotels can follow models of what stores are doing, with taped lines on the floor to demarcate six-foot distances. Brainstorm possible event room layouts and design a way for people to get to their seats while maintaining the distance limit.

Wynn Las Vegas recently unveiled its health and sanitation program, which includes several steps it plans to take to ensure that recovery is undertaken safely and responsibly. These include physical distancing measures, thermal cameras at entry points, a cap on gathering size and occupancy in retail and other areas, and mandatory mask-wearing.

It also indicates separate instructions for different aspects of the hotel’s operations, including training for employees, cleaning protocols and access to PPE, and a new flow for processing guests, and specific sanitation policies for each staff department. Wynn’s reopening strategy and safety precautions could serve as a blueprint for other hotels and meeting facilities as we move toward restarting the MICE business.

Most importantly, when it comes to hosting safe meetings and events at a hotel or venue, be sure to stay in touch with all local guidelines.

“Now and going forward, health and safety should be paramount, and venues are pulling out all the stops to put together comprehensive health and cleanliness programs to ensure the safety of their group business guests,” said Event CMO Patrick Smith.

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