This past year has brought incredible changes to our lives and work. Hosting meetings and events in this new world requires some major adjusting on the part of planners, venues, and attendees. A combined effort is required to host essential in-person functions again. Is it still possible to plan safe and effective, physically distanced face-to-face meetings in the post-COVID-19 world? Absolutely. Here’s how.
Consider Every Detail
Be selective about each detail of your meeting or training. Start by only inviting essential personnel and planning in-person events only when the subject matter is something that cannot be addressed remotely. If possible, avoid trainings or meetings that require attendees to travel across national, district, or county borders. Host the event outdoors if feasible, or in a room that allows for open windows when available. Limit group size for social distancing by scheduling multiple sessions or splitting larger events into smaller cohorts. Be sure that all tools and equipment (e.g., pens, computers, microphones) are not shared among participants. If this is not practical, be sure to disinfect all tools and equipment after each participant’s use. Meetings should be kept as short and focused as possible.
Choose Your Venue Carefully
Venues play an essential role in planning and holding a safe meeting or event. Ensure that you choose a venue that has implemented safe distancing practices, takes every precaution for sanitation, and offers thermal scanning with digital thermometers. These have become essential layers to ensure that attendees and participants are safe throughout any event. Contact venues to determine that they have a high-quality sanitation policy in place. Be sure to select a venue that focuses on key areas to provide safe meetings and events, including health safety procedures, social distancing provisions, and safe protocols for food and beverage service. Venues with well thought-through policies to include flexible attrition and cancellation clauses will be the easiest to work with during this challenging timeframe.
Provide detailed guidelines and requirements to participants well in advance of the event so they know what to expect. Remind them not to attend if they have any COVID-19-related symptoms, and ask them to take precautions not only after they arrive, but before. Participants should wear a mask, limit contact with other individuals, wash and sanitize hands frequently, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others during their travel time and throughout the event.
Keep Safety Paramount
Request that meeting attendees avoid socializing with one another or the local community during the time the event occurs. Set the standard for physical distancing and properly wearing face masks at all times except when eating or in private rooms alone. Display health advisories with visual cues and reminders prominently. In these times, it is expected that you ask all attendees to commit to a safety code of conduct and begin each day with a reminder of all expectations and rules for their safety. As testing becomes more readily available, including testing protocols may be another consideration.
Meetings and events that take place in person will likely need to offer virtual or hybrid alternatives for those who cannot attend despite precautions. Small, drive-to meetings held locally with attendees from a close geographic area may be one way to conduct necessary internal meetings, workshops, and seminars. Focus on individual activities, using group tasks only when essential and possible within physical distancing parameters. If lodging is required, provide single rooms so that individuals have as little direct contact as possible.
The management and staff at the Maritime Conference Center has worked diligently to create, and continually modify, protocols and resources for our meeting planners and guests in order to mitigate the risk of infection to the very best of our abilities. Our policies are based on the latest safety guidance from the CDC, local and state health department, and other regulatory authorities. MCC’s initial phase of our protocols can be found in our COVID-19 Resource Center.
Please don't hesitate to contact one of our sales team members to discuss your upcoming meeting needs. We truly value conversation with our meeting planner friends, and any input and perspective provided will ensure the success of safe meetings at MCC!
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