As New York City’s $10 billion events industry continues to suffer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, industry luminary Arthur Backal, CEO of Backal Hospitality Group, is leading a new industry taskforce, Banquet Event Strategic Taskforce New York called “B.E.S.T.”
“We formed this industry recovery group last month and am looking into making it a permanent advocacy trade association,” explained Backal. “We joined together to get ourselves heard and help get the events industry back as soon as possible.”
Joining Backal with the launch of this group is Allan Kurtz, managing director of Ziegfeld Ballroom & Gotham Hall; and Mike Warren, director of catering at CPS Events at The Plaza New York.
Other members of B.E.S.T. include owners, general managers, directors of food and beverage, executive chefs, and many other hospitality leaders from the top 30 venues and hotels in New York City.
They include Backal Hospitality Group; Mandarin Oriental New York; Lotte New York Palace; The Pierre New York, a Taj Hotel; The Plaza Hotel; Rainbow Room; Great Performances; Gotham Hall; Tribeca Rooftop; Ziegfeld Ballroom; Abigail Kirsch; and others.
The group has created a best practice model for all to use once New York City reopens. It includes the entire guest experience from check-in and registration to elevators, event space, food and beverage menus and catering, entertainment, restroom protocol and more. B.E.S.T. has strategized on these event protocols to adhere to social distancing and other health safety measures, following government recommendations.
“We are doing all in our power to prepare for the ‘Now Normal,’” says Backal. “I have learned not to get fixed into a ‘New Normal.’”
Known for his optimism and ubiquitous smile, Backal says even with safety measures in place, hospitality and care will be a goal.
“Working with my team at Apella, we have coined the phrase, “High touch, no touch,’” he said. “We will do everything possible to comply with all health safety standards but will also be hospitable and provide the utmost guest satisfaction.”
Backal has his hand in planning meetings and events as well as the consulting director of catering for Mandarin Oriental, New York as well as Apella, an inspiring event and meeting center located on a secluded, private 3.5-acre property on the edge of the East River with ten thoughtfully designed private, separate rooms for responsible social distancing that accommodate up to 300 guests.
A new venture is VERSA Restaurant and Rooftop, home to one of New York’s largest retractable rooftops. Located in the heart of Midtown, this 12,000-sq-ft restaurant offers both private and semi-private space for events from 25 to 800 people in an 8,000-sq-ft outdoor area, perfect for social-distancing.
Backal and B.E.S.T created these protocols with the help of safety organizations, meeting professionals, events industry suppliers, vendors, partners, and peers.
“We are ready to go once things open up,” he concluded.
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