As the events industry continues to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, the Events Industry Council (EIC) has started releasing a series of guides for different industry sectors that will be updated regularly as more information on containing the spread of COVID-19 becomes available. Put together by the APEX COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force — a group of more than 40 individuals who work in different parts of the industry, including CVBs and hotels — these guides are meant to address two paths to recovery: 1) an urgent need for guidance on currently accepted practices and work that is already underway to restart the industry, and 2) the long-term needs for the industry to adapt and transform, as well as acknowledge the resiliency of the events industry.
Released in August 2020, EIC’s “Health and Safety for Hotels Accepted Practices Guide” — the second in EIC’s series of guides following the “Meeting and Event Design Accepted Practices Guide” — curates practices and protocols from organizations such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the World Travel and Tourism Council, and a number of hotel companies such as Marriott, Hyatt, and MGM Resorts International, and puts them in an easy-to-grasp resource booklet, available for download. The protocols focus on best practices for four specific areas: transmission barriers, enhanced sanitization, health screenings, and food and beverage.
“We saw there was so much great work being done — a lot of hotel companies really putting together wonderful resources,” said Amy Calvert, CEO of EIC and a member of the APEX COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force. “And yet, so many of the people that work in our industry were either overwhelmed by the amount of information, or really didn’t have a way to create context or understand it, or how to put it into practice.”
The APEX COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force focused on sharing “what was baseline, what might be an enhancement, and then how do we generate informed conversations between partners,” Calvert said.
A particularly important conversation the guide highlights is the crucial dialogue between venues and meeting professionals. “A key success factor for mitigating risks associated with COVID-19 is open communication between hotels, stakeholders/partners, and event organizers,” the guide states, and provides a list of questions venues should ask event organizers and event organizers should ask venues, as they begin to plan their event during the pandemic.
Questions fall into the categories of business strategy, attendee expectations, communications, health and safety, technology, and sustainability and social impact. Some of the questions the guide suggests event planners ask venues include, “What can we expect to see as health and safety protocols at each stage of the attendees’ journey?” and “If a guest or attendee tests positive for COVID-19, what is the protocol for the individual, and what meeting space and guest room recovery policies will the hotel implement?”
“This is an opportunity for us to be more present in our partnerships and to be more engaged in conversation,” Calvert said, “and understand that we have mutual goals and objectives. We have to collaborate and to be engaged in open and honest conversation to be able to do that.”
Casey Gale is associate editor at Convene.