How does the “new normality” work at corporate events?
Trips and events are back big time! It is apparent we are all keen on recuperating our normality. Our sector has been one of the most affected but, at the same time, is the one most prepared to return safely to activity. We have in our hand the complete itinerary and we know who is attending. For sure, company groups are the safest. The sector is returning in force!
As we all know, the short term future is heavily related to safety. Carrying out events in a responsible manner is fundamental. To this end, we have in place a series of measures whose objective is none other than to guarantee that safety. We are professionals and we understand the importance of ensuring that programmes of events, meetings and incentives take place without risks. It is not at all difficult. We can only emphasise the importance of working with professionals.
The protocols developed for this purpose by the Institute of Touristic Quality are recommendations at a national level, in addition to those established by the autonomous regions and to the specifications of each supplier. These are rules that are constantly changing to meet new circumstances, which means that now, more than ever, we must constantly update.
What are the general requirements?
In general terms, the protocol is centred on 5 clear points: maintaining social distance, ventilation of venues, crowd control, constant cleaning and disinfecting and the correct use of protective measures.
We cannot forget that each activity and space has its own characteristics and we have to adapt to them, prioritising open-air spaces or ventilating venues and constantly disinfecting them. In the latter, the number of persons per m2 allowed and the renewal of air are particularly important.
The principal function of those responsible for an event, as well as all the organization that has always been involved, is to supervise that it all goes without any incident. For which, working in a team is very important, and means that clients, participants and/or exhibitors must cooperate with the prevention measures. Also, suppliers must update their contingency plans and guarantee the fulfilment of those measures.
What is the first thing to be taken into consideration?
Providing clear information is paramount. All interested parties must be aware of the options available in terms of safety and, depending on the event, together we develop a perfect programme and attractive proposals.
As always, we shall advise on what the best venues are depending on the organizational requirements, emphasising in this case, the capacity and, where possible, the option to hold the activities in the open air and always choosing the suppliers that offer maximum guarantees.
To mention a specific example we are aware there is concern over the crowd capacity issue, because in meeting rooms capacity becomes greatly reduced or in catering events, the modus operandi becomes more difficult, especially at cocktails and buffets. As professionals we can guarantee, that if we know the suppliers and we choose wisely, this is not going to be a problem.
We can decide between keeping the safety distance (currently at 1.5 metres) or wearing individual protection. It is highly recommendable to give a good briefing to inform all those attending of the agreed measures. On the other hand, we consider it indispensable to maintain the correct cleaning conditions and we concentrate on the control of that.
How can we organise a banquet?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions. At banquet tables, the method of seating people is based on the specific regulations passed for restaurants which are not too limiting for the client, albeit very strict for the staff. They appeal more to individual responsibility (with minimal established regulations), a proposal we fully agree with. If we speak of real examples, we can seat 10 people at each table, with each table at 1.5 metres from the next. It is advisable to take the details of the participants that compose each “team”.
For further examples we can mention that single servings are highlighted, materials that can be touched by several people are not used (such as a salad server, for example), remind people of distancing between diners, encourage attended service stations (not self-service), signage indicating location of the waiter and that of the clients….. plus all ideas that can help to follow the measures in a fluid manner.
What about crowds?
Maximum capacity levels change each week and are different in each autonomous region, (we can inform you accordingly, depending on the specific location). When distances are respected to the inch in a room, for example, capacity is reduced to nearly one-third of full occupancy. As an alternative, we can propose the use of masks. In this case, ventilation capacity is of huge importance. Another example (at this moment in time) is cocktails, for which a minimum of 3 or 4 m2 per person is established on which to calculate maximum capacity.
The representatives of the areas will control the crowd management with our help and, as organisers, we shall ensure everything goes well. In regard to queues, the ideal situation would be to anticipate the flow and mark the area with arrows to be followed. Besides, as we have already commented, we have to appeal to individual responsibility. It is also very useful to use signage, which acts as a permanent reminder. We recommend placing placards at various levels so that wherever we look we can see that reminder.
The sector is prepared
As professionals in the sector, we can all manage any event with all safety guarantees. On the other hand, we understand that concerns may arise on how to manage leisure and fun moments. This is where the creativity and expertise of the professionals come into play, plus a thorough knowledge of the destination. We reiterate it is not difficult and, if we work together as a group, (organisers, clients, participants, suppliers), everything will run smoothly.
Working with groups and professionals who continuously supervise the development of activities, means any risk is reduced to almost nil. As we have mentioned above, it is an advantage to know who each person attending is and to control the whole programme.
The clients, for their part, are ready to provide further information in the interests of the correct handling of the situation. Companies are very aware we are all in the same boat. It is nothing new that details are obtained, for example, for dietary purposes or mobility restrictions. In this instance, the sector is better prepared than others to deal with traceability fluidly.
On the other hand, it is calculated that in a couple of months there should be an improved quick test at a lower cost. It would then be possible to add those tests to the other measures such as ventilation, social distancing, open-air spaces and the use of masks, together with correct hygiene procedures.
Working as a team
The training of staff is fundamental so they know how to react to any given incident (and to also recognise the symptoms). However, not only is it staff who must have this information. We all want to recuperate our mobility and normal habits. The information is out there.
Trips and events are back and they return encouraging teamwork between agencies, clients and suppliers. The number one rule is self-protection. From that position on we, the professionals, are there to ensure that the return to normality we all want should be practically free of risk. We want to transmit a message of safety, we are totally dedicated to winning the battle and there is no doubt we shall achieve it all together.
Fortunately, Spain is a destination with huge experience in events, meetings, incentives, congresses… Moreover, our climate favours enormously the choice of open-air spaces. And let´s not lose sight of the fact that it is a question of time that real normality will return; this is a temporary effort. One of the fundamental objectives of events is to connect people and we are recuperating that essence little by little. Are you up for coming back? We are really looking forward to hearing from you!
For further information, you can consult a more technical and in-depth summary of measures established for the MICE sector on this link. In any case, you can always contact us directly for any specific queries and we shall be delighted to help you. We are at your disposal!
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With a career of over 12 years dedicated to the Tourism Sector and specially to the Meetings and Events Sector, in this blog I share with you all that I consider interesting to bring value to our work. It is sometimes difficult to follow a world moving at such a rapid pace. Stop for a second and navigate these sites written for you. Have a nice day!