Event venues are scrubbing up nice and clean, and in accordance with strict new standards, to welcome business gatherings in a post-lockdown world
Enhanced cleaning procedures deployed by event venues during the Covid-19 pandemic will likely remain a key part of operations in a post-lockdown world, as event organisers looking to resume physical meetings are expected to deliver heightened duty of care for attendees, partners and staff.
At the TTG Conversations: Setting the stage for a return in business events webinar on May 21, panellists representing the business events industry emphasised that venues hoping for a business rebound would have to provide a safe and reassuring environment for their clients and visitors.
Ian Cummings, global vice president, commercial, CWT Meetings & Events, stated that the safety and well-being of attendees â€“ which have always been key considerations â€“ will bear even great scrutiny going forward.
â€śVenues with the highest level of (health and hygiene) accreditation will be the ones that win. But (this requirement is not just limited to) venues, as airlines that invest the most in safety for passengers will get the highest level of confidence. Airports (that do not) have correct distancing capabilities and (better processing of passengers) may cause us to change the meeting destination,â€ť Cummings said.
The way to godliness
In April, Hong Kongâ€™s AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) led the cleanliness charge among event venues when it deployed a high-tech disinfection installation and advanced air purification technology in preparation of business resumption.
The CLeanTech disinfection installation and advanced air purification technology can sanitise visitorâ€™s outfits and carry-on items in 12 seconds, among other features. It is believed that AWE is the worldâ€™s first exhibition and event venue to deploy the system.
While venues elsewhere in Asia-Pacific may not yet boast such high-tech cleanliness deployments, they have expressed commitment to maintaining an active clean mode when business resumes.
According to Loy Joon How, general manager of Impact Exhibitions Management, which manages the Impact Muang Thong Thani event complex in Bangkok, â€ścomprehensive precautionary and preventative measuresâ€ť have already been in place since February to â€śensure the safety and peace of mind of attendeesâ€ť.
â€śIf there is a need, we will definitely explore the deployment of technologies such as cleaning robots, and other effective cleaning solutions available,â€ť he added.
Accor, whose property portfolio includes hotels with event spaces as well as convention centres, has put in place enhanced hygiene protocols and established the ALLSAFE Cleanliness label to reassure guests and customers.
The hotel group has also taken a step farther by providing a complimentary AXA insurance that grants staying guests access to a telemedical appointment should they feel sick.
â€śThis will give guests another level of comfort and assurance, so that they feel safe when they are in our hotels,â€ť said Kerry Healy, vice president sales Asia Pacific, Accor.
Here for good
Venue operators and managers are certain that these measures will remain for a long time to come.
Loy said the pandemic has brought venue cleanliness into sharp relief across the world.
â€śClients will now expect higher standards of hygiene and disinfection processes, and we as a venue should rightfully comply in the interest of safety hygiene,â€ť he said, adding that a venueâ€™s hygiene standards have always been a key criteria for clients deciding on which venue to use.
Geoff Donaghy, CEO, ICC Sydney, agreed: â€śInevitably there will be an increased scrutiny on venuesâ€™ hygiene by clients as we emerge from this pandemic. ICC Sydney is proud to have always maintained highest standards in hygiene to ensure the safety of guests and team members. These â€“ plus any other measures deemed necessary â€“ will be in place when the venue reopens for events.â€ť
Signalling ICC Sydneyâ€™s readiness to reopen for safe business, the venue launched its EventSafe Operating Framework on June 11. The framework sets out protocols spanning 16 key areas of event management, including the customer journey, environmental hygiene and food service. It integrates best practice from parent group ASM Globalâ€™s VenueShield â€“ a programme of advanced hygienic safeguards, informed by public health authorities, medical and industry experts â€“ which is deployed in its 325 facilities worldwide.